Savoring summer with pesto – now and later

Just in time for harvesting and preparation, pesto from herbs can add great taste and variety to your summer meals, with some preserved for later.

Basil is a wonderful herb that can be used straight from the garden or hanging basket to flavor a wide array of foods. Many people use it with pasta, pizza, bruschetta and roasted potatoes. Additionally, there are other kinds of pesto. For example, you can use spinach to make pesto, as suggested by the United States Department of Agriculture in the linked quick and easy recipes.

Using herbs adds a wonderful taste to foods and can reduce sodium intake. Don’t let the use of herbs become diminished due to lack of time for harvesting and preparation. When using fresh basil it is important to note that it does not handle refrigeration or freezing well, unless it is prepared into pesto. It will turn black due to the cold temperatures.

Basil is the main ingredient in this pesto. To make basil pesto, assemble the ingredients listed here and follow these directions.

Ingredients

2 cups washed basil leaves                             

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts                    

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil                                                           

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese*

Directions

1. Pinch the leaves of basil off the stems, rinse and put into a blender.

2. Carefully toast the pine nuts on the stovetop until golden brown, try not to burn them. Note – toasted walnuts can be used in place of pine nuts.

3. Add the following with the basil: Olive oil, lemon juice, salt, toasted pine nuts and garlic. In a blender or food processor, blend until smooth.

4. If you are going to freeze the pesto, the National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends that you put this mixture into a jar or freezer proof container; you can add a thin layer of olive oil, cover with a lid and freeze. *Add the cheese later when you heat it up. If refrigerating, use within three days.

Michigan State University Extension offers high-quality and affordable education to Michigan residents to increase awareness, knowledge and to improve skills as they relate to food safety and food preservation. Check the MSU Extension events calendar to find a class for you.

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