Making and freezing basil pesto in a great way to preserve the fresh flavors of summer. Healthy and versatile – pesto is perfect brushed on grilled meats, tossed with steamed veggies or stirred into soup.
Homemade basil pesto is one of my favorite recipes to prepare in bulk during the summer. It takes just minutes to prepare, is extremely versatile and is ideal for freezing. Since basil can be pricey during cooler months of the year, having frozen pesto on hand in the freezer is like having money in the bank.
Chances are, you are either growing basil in your backyard or live near a farmer who is selling it for pennies. Making and freezing pesto is the perfect use for an abundance of fragrant fresh herbs.
For a simple guide on washing and storing dark leafy greens (including basil!) be sure to check out my tips and video tutorial. It’s the best way to make fresh greens such as romaine, kale or Swiss chard last longer in the fridge.
If you don’t have every ingredient listed, get creative and use what you have on hand with this easy swap-out guide:
- Basil can be replaced spinach, parsley, arugula or cilantro.
- Parmesan can be replaced with pecorino, romano or Grana Padano cheese.
- Pine nuts can be replaced with walnuts, pistachios or cashews.
Fresh lemon juice and zest brightens up the flavor and adds a great acidic balance to the olive oil, cheese and nuts. Toasting the pine nuts takes less than 10 minutes and provides a deep, rich flavor that you simply don’t get with raw pine nuts.
Pesto is packed with health benefits including heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids from the olive oil, iron from the leafy greens and vitamin C from the lemon. Added bonus? Iron helps boost the absorption of vitamin c so consuming them together is a win win.
Stay tuned this week for more delicious ideas and recipes for basil pesto. In the meantime, here are a few tasty suggestions to get you started:
Grilled Baby Portabella Pesto Flatbreads from Aggie’s Kitchen
Pesto Quinoa & White Bean Cakes with Roasted Tomatoes from Oh My Veggies
Foil-Wrapped Grilled Tilapia with Pesto, Tomatoes and Green Onions from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Pesto Potato, Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Salad from Cookin’ Canuck
Caprese Panini (Gluten Free) from With Style & Grace
- 4 cups fresh basil
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1/2 cup pine nuts toasted
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 juice and zest of lemon
- 1 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
To toast pine nuts, place on a baking sheet in an even layer and bake at 350 for 6-7 minutes until browned.
In a large food processor, pulse together basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and zest.
Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To freeze, pour into ice cube tray and place in the freezer for 2 hours. Remove from frozen pesto cubes and store in a resealable plastic bag until future use. Pesto will last up to 3 months frozen.
Want more delicious gluten free recipe ideas using summer herbs? Head to the Udi’s Gluten Free Community and join the discussion.
For more great recipes, check out my Pinterest board!