Basil Harvest to Pesto

pestoMy garden this year is small. But there were some MUST HAVE plants even though I got a really late start.

One plant was basil.
My husband loves pesto.
It was something his mother made, froze and always had on hand. So for a quick Sunday pasta there was always pesto on hand to accompany the main course.

Olga (Joe’s mom) was from Genoa his father from Piemonte … that meant the cooking had a definite French twist which set it apart from Southern Italy.

Her Pesto was plain and simple.
Basil, garlic and olive oil.

She did not measure because what she made depended on the supply of basil available at any given time.

When she taught me I learned the same way. So it was more like a ratio than measurement. Taste had a lot to do with it too.

One thing I noticed through the years was Olga was always fighting pesto that would brown in the air. So everything that went into jars had to be covered with a layer of olive oil before it was frozen.

When I started making my own pesto I did not have the same problem. I wondered why. It was not until after she was gone that I think I figured it out. She used an old hand grinder to chop her basil and garlic. I switched from my metal grinder to my stainless steel quad blade food processor.

I do not know for sure but since that switch my pesto stays a beautiful vibrant green when it is put over hot pasta.

If that is not the case then there must be a cooking fairy waving her magic wand keeping my pesto beautiful :)

So here is the very simple process of making Pesto Olga’s way.

  • Cut your stems of basil from the plants.
  • Pick the tender leaves off the main stems.
  • Wash the leaves like you do spinach in a large tub of water then drain them on paper towels on a cookie sheet.
  • I then place these drained leaves into my salad spinner and whiz off the excess water.
  • Pack the leaves in a food processor layered with whole cloves of garlic. I used 10 large cloves to this batch of basil. The basil packed into the quart size bowl of my Ninja.
  • Chop the basil and garlic until it is very fine. No large pieces are left AT ALL.
  • Add olive oil whiz more … add more olive oil if necessary you want it soupy.
  • Pack the finished pesto into small jars. I save my old chopped garlic and ginger jars from Christopher ranch (they are about 4.5 oz size).
  • Top with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Place lid on and freeze or use immediately.
  • These little jars are just enough to make one batch of pasta for the 2 of us (with 1/2 lb of cooked spaghetti).
  • I cook the spaghetti, drain it … (reserve a bit of water just in case ) add the pesto and mix it up. If it is a little dry add a bit of your pasta water.
  • Top with grated parmasan cheese and enjoy.
basil-plant basil-cut
basil-snipped basil-washed
basil-dried basil-spin
basil-chop basil-chop2
basil-chopped pesto-in-jar

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