For many years I’ve wanted to purchase the BIG olive oil. But I could never really justify it. Until now!
With five family members and a garden full of green stuff, it’s finally time for the big olive oil at our house. This week I bought it in anticipation of making pesto. While the basil in my garden isn’t quite ready to be picked yet, the arugula is going gangbusters and with the upcoming hot forecast it’s destined to bolt soon.
Since I was prepped for pesto-making, it was easy to throw together some arugula walnut pesto for my freezer this morning in between other household chores.
I’m at a point where I don’t use a recipe, but if you are looking for a starting point here are some measurements:
4 cups packed arugula leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Start food processor and drop in garlic cloves. Once chopped, turn off processor, add arugula, walnuts, salt and pepper. Process a bit, then while leaving processor on, stream in olive oil slowly. Continue processing until it reaches a nice saucy consistency.
I do not put cheese in pesto I intend to freeze. It’s nicer to add the cheese later when using the pesto. That way the cheese is fresh and I can customize the amount depending on how I’m using the pesto.
Pesto freezes nicely in small serving size containers.
Many sources will tell you to freeze pesto in ice-cube trays. If this works for you, fine. But I find that it’s hard to remove them from the trays and it makes my ice-cube trays smell like pesto. Not good when I need to chill my lemonade. The serving size containers are so much easier to work with. They sell small and even very small sizes of these containers, perfect for pesto. I will never go back to the ice-cube tray method again. (Just thought you’d like to know!)
Pesto can be pricey. To save money it’s possible to substitute a more affordable nut, as I did with my arugula pesto. The traditional pesto nut is a pine nut. These are delicious and I do use them, especially with a basil pesto. But it’s fun to experiment with other nuts and the results are almost always delicious.
I also save money by adding cheese later. Sometimes I don’t even add cheese since it’s yummy without. Or I will just put cheese over a dish made with pesto, such as sprinkled over pasta or a pizza made with pesto sauce. Don’t try to save money by using the green can of Parmesan in pesto. Always use a real wedge of cheese (domestic is fine, imported is divine) and grate it yourself.
And of course, the number one money-saver idea I can offer is to grow your ingredients yourself. Basil (and arugula) are very easy to grow in a backyard garden or in pots. You can grow a large amount and really stock up the freezer for the winter. Parsley, mint and cilantro can also be used for making pesto…. each has its own unique flavor.