Make Your Own: Pesto!

A friend of mine from up the block has a bumper crop of basil and has been sharing with me. (You pinch the tips of basil plants to encourage branching (and more tips!) and to hold off blossoming.)

Basil is like time—it waits for no one. If you accept a gift of basil, you have to use it or preserve it right away. The question is: What do you do with a paper shopping bag of basil?

You make pesto! Here’s the recipe that I use. It makes about 1½ cups.


  • 5 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (or nut of your choice)
  • 4 cups basil leaves (packed))
  • Salt (pinch or to taste)
  • ½ cup fresh grated parmesan (don’t use the powdery stuff—it’s too salty)
  • Up to ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Puree in a food processor until all ingredients combine into a coarse paste. You may need to add more oil to get this consistency.

Pesto freezes well and keeps for a long time in my deep freeze (0°F). I pack mine into quart freezer bags and freeze flat. When I need pesto,  I just peel back the bag, snap a piece off, and return the rest to the freezer.

I use pesto in many ways: mixed with cream cheese as a spread, on pizza crusts in place of red sauce, in spaghetti sauce added in the last few minutes of cooking, and stirred into hot and cold pasta.

If you are fortunate enough to be offered a lot of basil, don’t say no—make pesto! Begonia

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