Enjoy Fresh Home Grown Basil Pesto All Year Round
Are you faced with too much basil in your garden and not sure what to do with it?
Last year when we planted fresh basil we struggled to get enough to even make a few tomato salads.
It was kind of pathetic really since we were hoping for a massive crop since we love it.
We use basil in just about anything we cook that we can jazz up the flavour like pasta, salads, dips, meat and potatoes etc.
Basil in oil is a wonderful thing and if you haven’t tried it you are missing out on some incredible flavours.
I don’t know many people who don’t fancy basil but you can get all sorts of different types of basil such as lemon-basil and chocolate-basil as well.
You can easily grow a garden in a small space including herbs all you need are small pots to get your seeds going and before you know it you will have more basil than you know what to do with.
It’s not as lucrative of a herb as mint is that grows like a weed but with some love and care this plant will grow in abundance for you depending on where you live of course.
Pairing basil and garlic together with some extra virgin olive oil is like a match made in heaven.
If you enjoy the freshest ingredients on your dinner plate it doesn’t get any fresher than this. Another idea we had with our fresh basil was to make basil oil.
We simply drop in fresh basil leaves into a good quality cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and let the flavours marry.
Can basil be frozen? Good Question but it comes out wet and wasn’t the best for us.
Since freezing basil on its own didn’t turn out for us so well we needed a plan b and the basil garlic cubes were born.
This year we purchased 4 packages of Italian Basil from the Dollar Store at 2/$1.00 for a decent amount of seeds.
You can’t go wrong at that price so we made sure we got enough to spread all over our 2 large planters.
Once planted we watered them daily and kept them outside on the deck where they received the direct sun for 80% of the day.
In the evening we would give them each a can of water and m ade sure they were well moist.
In just over 2 months the basil has grown so much we are in awe.
Honestly, I don’t think we expected to see as much basil as we have in comparison to last years crop.
Since we don’t like to waste food we wanted to come up with ideas to use up this basil..
To buy fresh basil out of season at the grocery store can run you a few dollars.
Besides growing and harvesting basil is fairly easy during the summer months in Canada.
If you want to buy a small handful of fresh basil in the shop it costs around $1.99.
There is no way we were letting all of this amazing basil go to the compost heap.
In the end, we will begin drying basil on newspaper in our basement and then crunch it up and put it in our spice jars.
We have a variety of spices in labelled mason jars in our cupboard and use spices in almost every dish we cook.
Garlic and Basil Pesto
Since purchasing a Kitchen-aid food processor (love it) earlier this year we were thrilled to see what we could whip up.
As we got to work we decided to see if we could purée our basil with garlic into a basil pesto.
If succeessful we would freeze it to use over the Canadian winter in our recipes.
We chose to try our idea out and it worked perfectly and they popped up easily when frozen.
It’s essentially a frozen basil pesto but one you can use all year-long created from herbs from your garden.
We made a few trays but realized we could do it another way that wasn’t so tedious.
The magic happened when we filled muffin tins with our custom basil garlic or garlic basil, whatever you want to call it, we call it yum.
Once you pop the mixture from the muffin tin by running a butter knife around you can easily freeze them as disks.
We then store them in Ziploc freezer bags for the winter.
We can now enjoy the taste of fresh basil or garlic greens all year-long.
This is such an easy process and if you have a food processor and love your fresh herbs go ahead and blend them up.
We have kept the basil cubes frozen in our freezer for about 1 year without any loss of flavours.
The best part is that we get to use our fresh basil all year long in our favourite recipes.
How to make basil cubes
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Process Time: Freeze about 2-3 hours or until frozen
- Food Processor
- Muffin tin
- 8 cups of fresh basil
- 6 cloves of organic garlic or 2 cups of fresh garlic greens (which we used grown organic courtesy of my father in law)
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- cooking spray
What is Basil Pesto?
It’s essentially a mix of herbs, olive oil, garlic, nuts and cheese in our house but sometimes we like to keep it simple and omit the nuts and cheese.
This is what we have here today with this basil garlic dressing but you can turn it into a pesto very easily.
**Note** You can also add Pine nuts, Walnuts or Almonds along with Parmigiano-Reggiano if you want to make this a pesto.
- Put all ingredients in the food processor and whiz it around until it comes together.
- If you need to add more olive oil do so from the top until it comes together like oatmeal consistency.
- Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and spoon fill the tin with the mixture.
- Cover it with plastic wrap and put it into the freezer.
- Once solid run a plastic knife around the edges and pop the basil disk out.
There you have it, a fresh basil disk ready to go into the freezer for future use.
I don’t know how long these will last in the freezer as this is the first year I’ve made them.
Update 2013: We’ve used these all year-long and have had no problems with them so far.
I’m expecting they will last for a while but in our house, we use so much of it that it will be gone before we know it.
Update 2015: We make the basil cubes every year and we can safely say they’ve kept well for a year in the freezer without loss of flavour.
What to make with basil pesto?
Here is what we made for dinner but you can easily add these cubes to make your favourite salad dressing to get the freshest flavours available to you especially when prices rise over the winter months in the grocery stores.
We love to eat fresh basil and garlic pasta so this recipe below will knock your socks off if basil is one of your favourite herbs.
Mr.CBB’s Basil Garlic Pesto with Baby Shrimp and Mushrooms
- Boil 1 500g package of Pasta al dente
- Add 1.5 cups of Basil Pesto (make as above in processor but add 1 cup of Almonds, 1/2 cup fresh Italian Parsley and 1/2 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano *Note you may need to add a bit more extra virgin olive oil as it purées.
- In a separate frying pan sauté mushrooms and baby shrimp with the tails off in a tablespoon of olive oil with a dash of salt and pepper
- When the pasta is done reserve 1 cup of pasta water
- Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- Add the pesto to the pasta and stir adding in pasta water a little at a time to help it all come together. *Note– you may not need all the water
- Top with your favourite cheese and enjoy!
Taste= AMAZING and the colour is so green and vibrant from the basil, parsley and garlic.
You can smell the freshness of the ingredients and a must try and super easy to make and won’t hurt the budget.
If you have friends who love basil you could also fill little gift jars and give them away as homemade gifts at Christmas.
The possibilities are endless.
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- The Frugal Basics-Convenience Costs!
- Mr.CBB’s Cheesy Crock-Pot Lasagna
- Mr.CBB’s Toasted Coconut Custard Tarts
- Mr.CBB’s Creamy Ham And Cheese Macaroni Bake