Freezer Pesto and Paste – Waste not, want not!

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I enjoy talking withMatt Swaim and Anna Mitchell each Thursday on the Sonrise Morning Show/Sacred Heart Radio. To continue with our “waste not/want not” segments today the subject was basil.

Do you grow basil? Sweet basil/Genovese basil are 2 common very delicious basils easy to grow. And if you’re growing basil, start pruning those flower heads out for a longer harvest. Use them in foods just like the leaves.

Basil, not mentioned specifically in the Bible, was grown during Bible times. Growing up Lebanese we called it “hobbit”.

I think of all the herbs I grow and which have Biblical significance, basil is my favorite.  Mom grew enough herbs for our family of 11 in a big iron kettle set on a tripod of 3 legs. I think they used to do the wash in it. Now that kettle (see above photo) sits in a place of honor in my herb garden. And yes, I grow hobbit in it.
Basil means “King” in Greek and it’s supposed to be considered the king of herbs there.
In India, there’s a type of  basil that is considered a sacred herb.In the spring theres always a big demand for Indian or sacred basil.

 

What does basil taste like? 

Sweet, common basil has a clove/licorice like scent and taste. Depending upon the type, basil can also have hints of thyme, mint, cinnamon and citrus. Thai and Indian basils especially are quite fragrant and pungent. 
 
A great culinary herb, basil is a key ingredient in pesto, and today I’m sharing my freezer pesto recipe plus a yummy salad using pesto in the dressing.
Preserving basil: Save $$$
 
Along with the freezer pesto, it’s waste not want not when it comes to basil. Take extra sprigs and make a basil flavored freezer Parmesan cheese: make several layers of basil and Parm in a freezer container, ending with Parm. Both will flavor each other; the basil stays fairly green, and it’s a great addition to soups, sauces, stews, etc.
 
Make a paste. Great base for pesto, sauces, soups, etc. Mince or run through food processor basil leaves and enough olive oil to make a thick paste. Store in freezer. Or an herbal salt: 2 parts salt to 1 part herb is the proportion I use. Just whirl it up in the food processor or mince herb by hand and mix with salt, spread on a cookie sheet, preheat oven to warm/170, place basil salt in oven and then turn it off. In a couple of hours it will be perfectly dry, ready to use. Store in pantry. 
FREEZER BASIL PESTO
2 cups basil leaves, packed or more to taste
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon pine nuts (optional but good) 
1 clove garlic, minced
Pepper to taste
Olive oil: start with 1/2 cup and go from there
I use my food processor. Place everything but oil and pepper in the food processor and process until blended. Pour in oil and process until smooth. Pack into freezer containers.
PESTO LACED CAESAR SALAD DRESSING
Ingredients
  • 4 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided – see instructions 
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise made with olive oil or your favorite mayonnaise 
  • 1/3 cup pesto or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Up to 1 teaspoon anchovy paste, or up to 2 oil-packed anchovies, drained (optional but good) – I didn’t use these yesterday
  • Worcestershire sauce to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Up to 1/4 cup water
  • Romaine lettuce, cut into bite size pieces
Instructions
  1. Shred enough cheese to make 1/4 cup. Shred rest of cheese and set aside.
  2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese, mayonnaise, pesto, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, anchovy paste, Worcestershire and pepper with a whisk, blender or food processor.
  3. Add enough water to thin dressing out to your taste 

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