|fresh basil from the garden|
Pesto alla Genovese is made from pine nuts, garlic, salt, basil, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Marcella recommends if you freeze the pesto for storage to wait and add the cheese until you're ready to use it, as the cheese doesn't freeze well. So, we make her recipe up to the point of stirring in the cheese, freeze it in individual portions (ca. 1/4 cup) in zip-lock bags from which all the air has been pushed out. This consumes a significant number of plastic bags, as we usually make 15-25 portions, and it's messy.
|freshly picked flat-leaf parsley|
This year we tried something different. We have a vacuum food sealer that has an attachment for wide-mouth Ball jars, and will suck the air right out of pint or quart jars. The jars end up with the lids very tightly sealed. We use quart jars to store arborio or carnaroli rice for risotto so it doesn't go stale and we vacuum freeze salmon, meats, and nuts in plastic bags. The basil pesto is prepared in a food processor, doubling the recipe in the cookbook (4 cups basil, 1 cup oil). Turns out, this produces just about a pint of pesto, perfect for a wide-mouth pint jar. The jars were filled to about 1/2" of the rim, the lid was carefully placed on the jar, and the whole thing was hooked up to the machine and vacuum sealed before putting the band on the jar. (One thing I do differently from Marcella is to make a paste out of the pine nuts, garlic and salt before putting the basil in the processor, and then make a paste of that before slowly adding the olive oil.)
|three pints of basil pesto and one pint of parsley pesto|
The plan is that when we want pesto, we open the jar, scoop out the amount we need, and re-seal the jar with the vacuum sealer and put it back in the freezer. Then we add the Parmesan cheese and toss it with pasta. The nice part is that we can re-use the jars.