Freezer Pesto and Paste – Waste not, want not!


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. 
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.
  • 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
  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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