Firmly pack basil leaves in measuring cup to ensure you’re using enough basil.
Scrape down sides of blender or food processor occasionally so that ingredients chop evenly.
Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pesto to help prevent it from darkening in refrigerator or freezer.
Thaw frozen pesto in refrigerator or place in resealable food-storage plastic bag with frozen pesto in container of hot water until thawed. Do not microwave to thaw because pesto will lose flavor.
Pesto adds a burst of fresh flavor to many dishes, transforming a familiar food into something different and new. A little goes a long way, so start off with a small amount, adding more if you like:
• Cooked vegetables: Toss with hot cooked vegetables instead of using butter.
• Corn on the Cob: Spread on hot, cooked corn on the cob instead of using butter and salt.
• Dip or Spread: Serve with appetizers as a dip or as a spread for bread, crackers, or cut-up raw vegetables.
• Mashed Potatoes: Stir into hot mashed potatoes.
• Meat or Fish: Brush on chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, scallops or fish during cooking or top cooked meat or fish after cooking.
• Pasta, Rice or Couscous: Toss with hot cooked pasta, rice or couscous.
• Pasta Salads: Replace a little of the mayonnaise or dressing with pesto in pasta salads.
• Spread on crust instead of using traditional pizza sauce or add dollops to baked pizza as a topping.
• Sandwich spread: Use instead of mayonnaise or mustard in sandwiches or in addition to your typical spread.
• Sauces: Stir into cream sauce or cheese sauce for serving on chicken, pork or pasta.
• Scrambled Eggs: Add a spoonful to eggs while beating.
• Soups: Stir into soups such as potato, tomato or corn chowder, or serve soup with a dollop of pesto on top.
For homemade pesto anytime, freeze pesto in ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove pesto cubes to a resealable freezer plastic bag and store in freezer up to 6 months.
Basil, Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto: Use food processor. Decrease basil to 1 cup. Decrease oil to 1/3 cup; add 1/2 cup drained roasted red or yellow bell peppers (from jar). Substitute walnuts for the pine nuts.
Cilantro Pesto: Substitute 1 1/2 cups firmly packed fresh cilantro and 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh parsley for the fresh basil.
Spinach Winter Pesto: Substitute 2 cups firmly packed fresh spinach and 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves or 1/4 cup dried basil leaves for the fresh basil.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto: Use food processor. Omit basil. Decrease oil to 1/3 cup; add ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, undrained.