Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Friday, August 20, 2010

Perfect Pesto

Remember back in March when I made Pesto Bread from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes A Day and I used my homemade frozen pesto.
Well, it's time to make some more.  My gardens are usually bursting with basil this time of year, and I can't make enough of it. 

Quite a few years ago when we had an abundance of basil, we made up 5 different recipes of pesto from reliable sources (Ina, Martha, among others).  This recipe won hands down in the blind taste test.  All 6 of us unanimously chose it over the other recipes.  It comes from the Foster's Market Cookbook, which is one of my all-time favorite resources.  I make batches and batches of this every summer and freeze it. I cut it in cubes and store it in freezer bags for use through out the rest of the year and then I can defrost only a large enough chunk for the recipe I'm making.  My daughters also like to raid the freezer in the dead of winter and take some back to their apartments at University after a weekend at home.

It's great on veggies, pasta, or both.  In the summer, I put the pasta on to boil and run to the garden for whatever ripe vegetables there are to be had.  Often I add leftover chicken or shrimp and I've got a complete dinner in a flash.
I use it for omelets or bread dipping.  Mix it with mayo or spread it plain on sandwiches.  One of my daughters has been caught (more than once) eating it right from the bowl with a spoon.  This pesto is so good!   It's traditional pesto; I use only pignoli or pine nuts, that I have roasted.  I've tried other recipes with walnuts and some with parsley added to the basil.  I think they dilutes the flavor and vibrancy.  Oh no, none of those other pestos will do for us!
I have not touched up the photo of the pesto.  Did you notice how vibrant and bright green it is?  It stays this color even after it's frozen.  My secret weapon?...that little white vitamin C tablet in the photo on the left.  Add it to the food processor when you add the Parmesan cheese...just one tablet per batch.  Vitamin C is just ascorbic acid (you can also add some Fruit Fresh if you have it) and it will keep the basil from darkening.  And it's good for you too!   
Another great tip...see the Parmesan rind left over after I grated my cheese (those are salt crystals on the rind, not mold and  the crystals are harmless and a normal thing on real Parmesan rinds)?
 Don't throw the rind away!  Real Parmigiana Reggiano cheese is expensive, so cut the rind into small pieces and freeze it in freezer bags.  When you are making soup, throw a frozen rind in.  The cheese will melt off the rind and into the broth.  Check the rind occasionally to see when the cheese has melted away, and then discard the waxy rind before serving.  They add great flavor to your soup. 

 Tomatoes and basil are a perfect marriage.  I use them together often.  What will you make with your pesto?

Foster’s Market Pesto
2 C. firmly packed basil leaves, washed and dried
6 garlic cloves
¾ C. extra-virgin olive oil
¼ C. roasted pine nuts
1 C. (4 oz.) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

*optional: 1 vitamin C tablet (keeps the pesto from going brown)

Place the basil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the garlic and pulse several times to make a rough chop.
Add the olive oil in a slow steady stream down the feed tube, with the motor running. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times.
Add the pine nuts, Parmesan, salt, and pepper and puree about 1 minute longer until the mixture is well blended and smooth.

*(Note: If adding a vitamin C tablet, add it along with the pine nuts).

Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use or up to 2 weeks.

You can also refrigerate this in ice cube trays. After it is frozen, remove from the trays and store in freezer bags for up to 6 months. Take out only as many cubes as you need.  I freeze my pesto in Pyrex baking pans, turn it out onto a cutting board, and cut into recipe size chunks (1 Tab. measure in an ice cube tray is not enough for my recipes).

Linked to Two for Tuesdays.


  1. Looks like a great recipe and thanks for the vit c secret tip! I make a garlic scape pesto in the spring and freeze it in cubes. Still got a few of those cubes rattling around in the freezer. :)

  2. Oh my, I do love pesto! Thanks for the tip about the vitamin C tab. That will prevent the darkening I sometimes get when I freeze it. I like to spread a bit on a toasted baguette and top it with a tomato slice and a bit of mozzarella. Isn't summer wonderful?

  3. What a gorgeous color. I've never heard of the vitamin C tablet idea before. I'm putting pesto on my to do list this week.

  4. Bonnie, I'm so glad you put this up! I'm making a huge batch tonight thanks to you and your helpful hints. How is Brooke?

  5. wow, thats a lot of garlic in the pesto, thats why its sooooo good!!!
    great tips on the vitamin c, I never knew that and hate dark pesto! The tip on the cheese rind is priceless, what a waste if you don't save it!
    thanks for a wonderful post!!

  6. Dennis, It is a lot of garlic, and you can certainly use less if you are not a garlic lover. But this is so flavorful that you can use less in your recipe and not lose the punch of flavor.

  7. I love all of Sara Foster's cookbooks and have been to her Market in Durham. I will definitely try this pesto recipe. I have her books on my book shelves. Thanks Bonnie.

  8. I just made your pesto, it's in the freezer and can't wait to cut it into chunks. What size pan do you use for one batch?

  9. Oh yeah, I LOOOOVE adding a parm rind to soups...that's THE best! Your best sounds deeelicious!

  10. i love pesto! it's so versatile and delicious... i hope everything is alright with your daughter... she is in our prayers, as are you and the rest of your family. God bless.

  11. Yummie, your pesto looks delicious...really full of flavor! And thanks for the tip of Vit C :-)

  12. Oh how beautiful and green your pesto is! I am with your daughter - right out of the bowl with a spoon please! Thanks for linking this to Two for Tuesdays!

  13. Wow, I've never known anyone to taste test so many peto recipes before, but that really makes me believe that this one is the best. Except, oops, I just gave away one of my pots of basil! I really like to take out a pesto ice cube in the dead of winter, and use it to finish soup.

  14. Bon bon, what GREAT tips about the vitamin C and also the Parmesan rind. I knew the second one but not the first! Alas, I lost most of my basil to slugs this year, but I did make pesto out of arugula and it was almost as good! I love how you make your dinner decisions based on what is fresh in the garden! this is Lovely! thanks for sharing on the two for tuesday blog hop! Alex@amoderatelife

  15. This is right on time! I need to use up some of our basil in the garden. Thanks for sharing!

  16. I made pesto for the first time this year and I love seeing everyone's variations. That is a great tip for the cheese rind!

  17. p.s....thanks for sharing this with Two for Tuesdays this week, too =)

    (LOL, I said your "best" sounds delicious up there...I meant your pesto, but hey...your besto pesto, perhaps?)

  18. Thanks for the reminder to look for basil at the market. We do have some growing in our shady garden but not nearly enough for making pesto.

    Interesting tip about the vitamin C tablet to stop the basil from turning brown. I've found that if I make sure the leaves are COMPLETELY dry before pestling them with olive oil only before adding any of the other ingredients, the basil stays green. (I hope that made sense!)

    We love slivering the parmesan rind and using it as a garnish for pasta with pesto.

  19. I love making home-made pesto - I usually use a recipe by Lidia Bastianich, and sometimes one from Marcella Hazan (which somewhat unusually has some butter in it), but as soon as summer comes here I am going to try this one. I never knew about the Vitamin C tablet though - that's a great tip. I like to freeze surplus pesto too - and my parmesan rinds - you're right they are a brilliant addition to soups. I love adding them to thick pea and ham soup.

  20. Thank you for the vit C tip! I enjoy making (and eating!) my own pesto. I've made pesto SIX times this summer so I'll have plenty, (over 2 quarts) to use over fall/winter!

    LOVE your blog! Thank you for all that you so generously share!

  21. Thanks for the pesto recipe! I'm actually just posting about the basic pesto and scape pesto I made. So glad to have found your blog -- I've made mention of it on my blog.