4 c. fresh basil leaves (make sure they're pretty, with no brown spots and unwilted)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
4-6 T. olive oil
1 t. lemon juice
1/3 c. walnuts
In food processor or blender, combine 1 c. basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and walnuts. This gets all the non-herb ingredients mixed together. Add more basil as the basil is combined. Add a little water if you have trouble blending it together. Use fresh or store in the freezer.
Freezing pesto is super easy. I put it in ice cube trays or mini muffin cups and throw it in the freezer. When they are frozen, I put the cubes in baggies. These keep forever and are great for a quick meal.
I use the pesto plain on hot pasta with a little parmesan cheese. I also use it to punch up tomato-based pasta sauces on occasion. My favorite way to use it is as an alternative to pizza sauce. Top it with parmesan, chicken, black olives, sun dried tomatoes, onions, etc. Delicious...
While it is certainly easier to buy a can of spaghetti sauce at the store, none are as good as homemade. I like to think that my recipe is pretty easy, and a little work at the front end pays off huge with this amazing sauce:
Homemade Marinara Sauce
1-2 T. Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes (I use fire roasted) OR the equivalent in fresh tomatoes (I have several bags frozen from abundant times, so I sometimes use those)
1 T. minced fresh rosemary
a pinch or two of red pepper flakes
2 c. fresh (or frozen) basil, chopped
Heat oil in large pot. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic, cooking until softened and fragrant. Add in tomatoes, rosemary and red pepper. Cook for about 30 minutes on a low simmer, stirring regularly. As the sauce starts to cook down and come together, add the basil. Cook for about 15 more minutes, tasting for salt and maybe more pepper.
I serve this over pasta chunky like it is or will use my immersion blender to make it nice and smooth. Sometimes I cook it down even further and spice it up a little more and use it for pizza sauce. More often, I freeze it in meal-sized containers and serve with pasta or eggplant parmesan.
Freezing basil is easy. I make sure it's clean, then put it in baggies and freeze it. Sometimes I spread it on a cookie sheet first and then put it in baggies after it's frozen, but the end results are the same. I use it in any cooked recipe that calls for basil. It will not turn out as fresh and green as fresh basil, but the taste is the same. I can't tell the difference, and it's a great way to carry over the taste of summer well into the winter.