How to Freeze Pesto in Ice Cube Trays (quick video)
This quick video by Short Cut Cooking, an AllRecipes Production, shows you how to make a classic basil pesto using a food processor and how to store small portions in an ice cube tray for use later. It's a great idea and one that I use myself! The recipe in the video will fill one ice cube tray perfectly.
3 cups of fresh basil leaves (already washed and dried)
4 cloves of garlic (or 8 if you really love garlic!)
3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of pine nuts (may be toasted)
1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped (optional, but helps lock in green color)
Combine all ingredients in the food processor and blend until combined. The fresh basil pesto will be a bright green color and the aroma will be incredible!
TIP: Always use super fresh basil and the highest quality ingredients you can.
TIP: IF FREEZING, make the pesto without the cheese. When you are ready to use it, thaw the pesto slowly (never microwave or cook it.) Once the pesto is at room temperature, add the freshly grated parmesan cheese and stir. If necessary, add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to get the consistency you prefer. Toss with hot pasta and serve immediately. The pesto will loose a bit of color if frozen but the taste will be fine.
TIP: KEEP THE AIR OUT! Air is the enemy of pesto (causes oxidation) so I always cover my ice cube tray with plastic wrap, pressing it down to seal out the air before freezing overnight. Then remove the individual cubes and wrap them tightly in wax paper before storing them in a freezer bag. Be sure and date the bag. Good for up to 3 months. Use 1 to 2 cubes per serving. 1 cube is approximately 2 tablespoons of pesto.
TIP: TO STORE FOR LATER: If you will use the pesto soon (up to a week), store it in a glass jar with a lid (jelly jars are perfect) in the fridge with a thin layer of olive oil on top to preserve the flavor and color. Just mix before tossing with pasta.
Make a large batch during the summer when basil is fresh and abundant. Serve it for a delicious summertime lunch or dinner with a crisp green salad, crusty loaf of bread and a dry, white wine. Freeze leftovers for a taste of summer year 'round. Recipe below works for 1 pound of pasta.
1 pound fresh or dried pappardelle pasta
2-3 cups packed, fresh basil leaves (carefully washed in cold water and air-dried), reserve a few leaves for garnish
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup Italian or Spanish pine nuts
up to 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for sauce, remainder for garnish)
Combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil slowly and process until fully incorporated. Sauce will be rough and a bit chunky. Season with Kosher salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper.
Add 4 quarts (liters) of cold water to a large pot of water and bring to a rolling boil. Add a heaping tablespoon of salt to the pot once the water is boiling. Add the pasta, stirring occasionally until "al dente" (cooked but still firm). Reserve 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water just before draining and set aside.
IF USING PESTO IMMEDIATELY, slowly add in the remainder of the oil (to desired consistency) and the cheese and blend. Add the pesto sauce directly to the hot, drained pasta (do this in the still-warm cooking pot if possible to keep the dish hot) and toss gently. Add a splash of the starchy cooking water if necessary to smooth out the dish. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and basil leaves. Serve immediately.
IF FREEZING: Do not add the cheese. Transfer the pesto to an air-tight container and drizzle the remaining oil over the top until just covered. Freeze for up to 3 months. To use, remove container from freezer and allow the pesto to thaw slowly (don't microwave). Once pesto is room temperature, add in freshly grated Parmesan cheese, mix well and combine with hot pasta.
TO FREEZE SMALL PORTIONS: Do not add the cheese. Spoon the pesto into ice cube trays, cover the tray with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. Remove the individual cubes from the tray, wrap them tightly in wax paper and put them in a freezer bag to store. To use, remove the cubes, allow them to thaw slowly, (don't microwave) add the fresh cheese, mix well and toss with hot pasta or use as your recipe requires. 1 to 2 cubes per person. 1 cube is approximately 2 tablespoons, depending on the size of your ice cube trays.
Recipe may be doubled. Sauce may be frozen. DO NOT MICROWAVE OR COOK. Allow to thaw and add to hot pasta.
Also great on bruschetta, on a sandwich or last-minute garnish for soup.