Thursday, September 4, 2014

Recipe: Basil-Parsley Pesto with Lemon and Walnuts (plus how to freeze it in ice cube trays what whaaaaat)

Because basil and garlic make me a happy happy camper, I've filled my freezer with a billion little frozen pesto cubes. Without a doubt, I'll use about half of them over the next few weeks, and will find the rest in a deep, dark crevice of my freezer 12 months from now. It's the thought that counts, though, right? Riiiiight. 

Besides. Last week I ate frozen lasagna from December 2013, and am still alive, as far as I can tell. (By the way is that gross?? I was on the fence but I was also hungry so that kind of overrides all reason.)

One morning after a double-batch of pesto was tucked away in the freezer, I shared with my mom the brilliance that is freezing portions of pesto in ice cube trays. She was all: 'LOLZ EVERYONE KNOWS THAT I was doing it before you were born.' And she's right. (She is also Martha Stewart if Martha Stewart went through a serious hippie stage in her late teens/early 20s. So I believe her when she says she's done and thought of everything.) 

I'm not saying I invented this whole ice cube tray thing. It didn't come to me in a dream, but rather in an issue of Real Simple (if I had to guess). I'm sharing it with you because sometimes all it takes is a reminder. A reminder that seeing a bunch of garlicky green pesto cubes in your freezer will make you so freaking happy I swear. 

Feel free to use any pesto recipe you'd like (duh I'm not your boss) but this one has quickly become my favorite. Do NOT be scared that there are only 2 tablespoons of cheese. I too, was weary since cheese = life, but it's so perfect as-is. Plus, I don't know about you but after I add pesto to pasta or quinoa or whatever, I usually pile on an extra heap of Parmesan cheese anyway. #cheeseoncheeseoncheese

Also! Since hopefully you're on your way to having a bounty of pesto on your hands, you should know that my #1 way to eat pesto is mixed into hot quinoa (that was cooked in chicken broth instead of water). I usually throw in some chopped sun-dried tomatoes and call it a day (or call it lunch), but you can also add sliced, sauteed chicken sausage for some extra protein. It's the bomb. My #2 way to eat pesto is on a spoon. No shame in this game.

Recipe: Basil-Parsley Pesto with 
Lemon and Walnuts
[original recipe via Epicurious]

- 3 to 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts (can sub almonds, or pine nuts if you're a baller)
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 
- 1 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground if available) 
- 1/2 teaspoon salt 
- 3 cups gently packed basil leaves
- 1 cup gently packed Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves (ok if there are some pieces of stem)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Jovial Foods brand)
- Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)

- Food Processor (a 3-cup chef's chopper like this one will fit one batch of pesto, though you'll need to add the herbs in batches as instructed below)
- Ice Cube Tray (optional - only needed if you're freezing the finished pesto)

Instructions: Making Pesto
Add the peeled garlic cloves to the food processor. Pulse a few times until garlic is finely chopped. Add the nuts, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Pulse about 10 times until nuts are finely chopped. 

Add all of the oil, all of the lemon juice, and 1 cup of the basil. (If you're using a larger food processor you can add all of the herbs at this point.) Run the food processor for about 8 seconds, until the ingredients are uniformly blended.

Add the other 2 cups of basil and 1 cup of parsley one cup at a time, and blend for about 8 seconds after each addition. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Run the food processor one more time, for about 5 seconds. 

At this point the pesto is finished! If you'll be using it in the next few days, transfer to a container and cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil. Store in the fridge. If you want to freeze all or some of the pesto for a later use, go on to the next step. 

Instructions: Freezing Pesto
For one batch of pesto you'll need one standard ice cube tray. Each cube will hold about 2 tablespoons of pesto, and you'll fill an entire tray. 

Using 2 spoons or a spoon and a small rubber spatula, transfer about 2 tablespoons of pesto to each ice cube compartment. Smooth out the top of each cube. Freeze the pesto-filled tray for at least 6 hours, or overnight. 

Once the cubes are frozen, remove each pesto cube from the tray. (This can be a little tricky since they don't slide right out - I slide a sharp knife down each of the four sides, then wiggle the cube out with the same knife.) Transfer all of the frozen pesto cubes to a ziplock bag, and store in the freezer until ready to use. 

Instructions: Cooking With Frozen Pesto Cubes
The cubes will defrost pretty quickly at room temperature. Or, you can pop a few into a bowl and microwave for 10 seconds at a time. (Should only take 10 seconds per cube.) Alternatively, you can throw them right into a hot pan.


  1. Interesting and yummy!! Walnuts and lemon is a rare combination, though it looks so delicious. I would love to try this at home!


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