How to make and freeze fresh pesto

This spring, I planted four basil plants with one purpose: Pesto!

These basil bushes were giant … even one was more than enough for daily picking for caprese salads and pasta. Harvesting the leaves and making pesto throughout the summer would have been the smart thing to do — that was my plan, but you know how it goes.

So yesterday was the day. I stripped two of the plants and made two batches. I froze the pesto in two-person portions using muffin tins, so I can use them over the next several months on veggies, pasta and more. Remembering that these are in your freezer in the middle of winter is a tiny treasure.

Each batch made enough to fill 12 muffin cups about 1/2 to 2/3 full — each portion is one to two servings. Once they’re frozen, pop out the little pucks, individually wrap them and store them in freezer bags.


I trust Ina Garten’s pesto recipe, which calls for pine nuts and walnuts. It’s really garlicky, which I love, but if that’s not your thing, use half the amount. Also, I omit the 1 teaspoon of salt — the nuts and Parm make the pesto appropriately salty.

Ina Garten’s PESTO 

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds.

Add the basil leaves and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed.

Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.


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