Sunday, October 14, 2012

classic basil pesto

fall has definitely hit new york city, bringing cold breezy weather with it. while i welcome the beautiful season and its changes, our window garden is one step closer to hibernation. we grow a variety of herbs, and our basil plants especially thrived this past summer. what's one to do with a surplus of basil that won't last much longer? try making a couple batches of classic basil pesto, and follow the added tips to freeze some for meals later on.

start with your basic ingredients: basil, pine nuts, a salty italian cheese, garlic, olive oil, and salt. simple and classic.

start with your pine nuts

toast them in a skillet until lightly browned, like this:

while the pine nuts cool slightly, pulse your cheese of choice until fine. i used pecorino here, but parmesan is also a good choice. 

 set aside cheese in a bowl, and pulse pine nuts until finely ground.

set pine nuts aside with the cheese, and add your garlic and salt to the food processor. pulse a few times to chop the garlic

add the basil to the bowl, along with half of your olive oil. pulse and then grind continuously to break up the leaves.

drizzle in the remaining olive oil, with the processor running continuously.

add the cheese and pine nuts that you set aside earlier to the work bowl and process about 10 times to blend. 

that's it! your pesto is done and ready to be mixed with pasta, spread on a sandwich, or any other possibilities.

to freeze your pesto for later, i recommend a silicone tray. divide your pesto up among the molds, leaving a little room for extra olive oil. drizzle a little olive oil on top of each mold.

freeze pesto overnight, or until cubes are solid. remove from the tray and store in freezer bags.

recipe from: cuisinart miniprep recipe book

classic basil pesto with pecorino cheese and pine nuts 
makes slightly over 1/2 cup pesto


1 oz pecorino cheese, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


1.   rinse and dry 1 cup packed basil leaves. toast the pine nuts in a skillet for 3-5 minutes on low until lightly browned. set aside to cool.

2.   pulse the cheese in the processor a few times on chop. process continuously for about 15 seconds until finely ground. remove cheese to a bowl and set aside. pulse the pine nuts in the processor a few times on chop. remove into bowl with cheese and set aside.

3.  add the garlic to the processor, and chop until minced. add the fresh basil leaves, salt and 1/2 of the olive oil (so about 1/6 cup). pulse a few times on grind mode, and the grind continuously until basil leaves are chopped up (about 15 seconds). run the processor on grind mode while you add the remaining olive oil slowly, through the holes on the lid of the work bowl. keep processing for about 10 seconds after all the oil is added.

4.   add the reserved cheese and pine nuts to the processor and pulse a few times, until all ingredients are combined. the pesto will develop a better flavor if you let it sit for about 30 minutes before using.

5.   to freeze pesto (optional), portion the pesto into a silicone ice cube tray, leaving some room on top. top off each mold with olive oil. wrap tray in saran wrap and freeze tray overnight, or until the pesto is frozen solid. remove cubes from tray when ready, and store in freezer bags until use.


when ready to use, either thaw the pesto in the fridge, or throw it into some hot pasta and stir.

don't use your regular ice trays for the pesto freeze process. my molds retained some of the scent after washing. don't want to dedicate a tray to savory uses? try freezing your pesto in a log and cutting off portions as needed.

this recipe is perfectly sized for the miniprep, but feel free to scale up if you have a bigger processor!


  1. You're so good at capturing every step of the process through your pics! I love that.