The thing I love most about this blog…. Is the comment section. Last week I mentioned the basil was coming on like mad in the garden and that I was planning on whipping up a few batches of pesto for the freezer. I’ve always made pesto with pine nuts. A few of you mentioned that you made pesto with almonds. And well, since I already had almonds in the pantry, I decided to give it a whirl.
And you know what? Pesto made with almonds not only tastes great, almonds are about HALF the price as pine nuts. 😉 I don’t know about you, but saving money is always a plus in my book. So if you’ve got a bunch of extra basil on hand, or are just looking for something delicious to make this weekend, give this recipe a try. You’ll be glad you did.
2 cups fresh Basil
1/2 – 3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup roasted whole almonds,chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Toss everything into a food processor and pulse, slowly adding extra olive oil if needed until the mixture is nice and smooth.
I know it’s hard to imagine, but if you make more pesto than you can eat, try freezing it. I like to freeze my extra pesto in my mini muffin tin. I use a 2 tablespoon scoop so the portions are all the same. Then I simply pop the filled muffin tin in the freezer for a few hours until the pesto is frozen, then pop the cubes of pesto in a zip baggie to use later.
The next time you need a little pesto, simply pop a cube in the microwave for a few seconds to thaw, then mix in to your favorite recipe. Need a little more pesto than that? Recycle a few of your old deli containers and freeze the extra pesto in larger batches. I find the 4 ounce tubs hold just the right amount for pasta dishes.
Yum. I have lots of basil, so I will try this recipe!
I use whatever nuts we have on hand (walnut, pecan, pistachio, macadamia, etc.) for pesto. I also sometimes do sunflower seeds, or I skip nuts/seeds entirely if I’m serving to friends with allergies. I’m sure it’s not authentic, but all variations taste great.
Yep – I use raw cashews and it tastes great. Like you say, not authentic but still tasty!
In fact, I have been known to top up with Cheddar when I don’t have enough parmesan. My Italian neighbour would not approve, that’s for sure!
I have a tree nut allergy so I make pesto without nuts. STILL delicious.
Lace Faerie says
Me, too! Maybe I’ll try sunflower seeds sometime.
CT Bargain Mom says
When my kids were in the super picky stage I used to buy pesto at Trader Joes and mix in some fresh streamed broccoli florets into it (finely chopped to hide) then over pasta. They loved the ‘green cheese sauce’. I used to buy 8 jars at a time! I never would have been able to grow enough basil to met the demand. Even now the youngest likes chopped basil in a salad
What is pesto used for? Pesto seemed to come from nowhere and I have no idea what it is!
Elise in the SF Bay Area says
LOL. It’s so versatile! It can be used:
as a sandwich spread for a white meat (chicken, turkey) sandwich with some cheese (something milder like provalone or jack), lettuce and tomato (and onion if you like, I don’t..)
just spread on bread like garlic butter (but don’t toast it after)
pizza sauce instead of red sauce. Commonly paired with clams here, or prochiutto, Not your regular pepperoni type things
but it’s most common use is as a pasta sauce. Just take “some”, it takes some practice to know the amount, to coat pasta. taste your pest and your pasta (with the pesto on it) to see if you think it’s enough. If you want more, add more! I usually serve it with Trader Joe’s spinach or cheese tortellini so that there is some filling in the dish, since it’s not as filling as a bolonaise sauce.
You can really add it to ANYTHING to give a good basil/garlic kick. I know Mavis likes to add it to soups. I don’t make soup :/ I just realized that a few weeks ago. Weird, but I don’t… Maybe because my kids don’t like the kids I do. Maybe I’ll start making some just to torture them 🙂
I also freeze pesto (and SO many other things) a 1T cubes in an ice tray. I started doing this when my little were babies, with their pureed food, and now… half a can of beef broth – in the ice cube tray! half a can of tomato pure- in the ice cube tray! You name it, I’ve portioned it out.
I even portion scrambled eggs because I like to make a bread recipe that calls for one egg, but we don’t eat it fast enough before it gets moldy, so I started making 1/2 the recipe, needing 1/2 of an egg! It works perfectly. I have a food scale to measure out how much I’m putting in each ice cavity. Eggs are 12-13 g per cavity to get 1/4 of an egg, 2 cubes melted = 1/2 egg, and it works perfectly for baked goods 🙂 The tops can get a little “cooked” if they are old, but it’s not an issue once they get will mixed in a recipe. You can also freeze just the whites, and just the yolks (I do this when saving up yolks for my lemon curd which takes _7_ extra yolks!)
Ahh, Ice cube freezing – I could go on and on… LOL Pizza night tonight, all ingredients from TJs – dough is fresh (this time, but can be frozen and thawed the day before or even same morning), sauce from a jar that I use fast enough (although I have frozen that too), frozen shredded cheese, thawed sausage link, thawed artichoke hearts, thawed goat cheese, jarred olives – I do pizza night about once a week, usually Sundays so we have leftovers for weekday lunches, but my 11YO is having a friend over, so I thought I’d do some tonight 🙂
Martine Hamilton says
Thank you for your very helpful comments. I’ll give it a try, I have some basil growing just now and had only thought to put it on a pizza but I’ll try to make some sauce now. 😀 x
It’s a sauce made with some kind of herb, olive oil, garlic, usually a hard cheese like Parmesan reggiano, and some sort of nut. Most people are referring to basil pesto, which most recipes call for basil and pine nuts, but I know Italians who use almonds or walnuts if that’s what they have. Good on pasta, or as a sandwich spread in place of mayo/mustard. Very yummy!
Martine Hamilton says
Thank you for your help. I will try it on pasta I think. I have some Basil growing in the garden at the moment so its an ideal opportunity to give it a go. I have some pecan nuts too so I might try them with it. x
Pesto made with walnuts works pretty well too. Sometimes you just use what you have and it works out great!
I am a walnut and almond farmer, and I use both (never pine nuts, when you have 20 gallon freezer bags of nuts in the freezer!). I think I actually prefer walnuts. My aunt in Torino, Italy uses walnuts.
Elise in the SF Bay Area says
I had some HUGE BUSHY basil plants last year (a take-home craft in a decorated potted plant from GS day camp that I transplanted out of the 4-inch pot into the garden bed) and I made SO MUCH pesto, as well as just giving it away. I remember not having pine nuts, but we DID have some (sortof old…) slivered almonds. it was PERFECT!! As Carla says, use what you have 🙂
My favorite farmer isn’t fond of pine nuts. When I made pesto, I used pecans. I’m going to have to try using almonds!
I just read on another website that if you blanche your basil for a few seconds that it will prevent your pesto from turning brown. Has anyone tried that?
I have not tried blanching, but my recipe calls for a small amount of lemon juice, and that prevents browning from oxidation. I find it still discolors if I had it to super hot pasta because it’s basically cooking it, but slightly cooler pasta tends to keep it a little greener.
I have also used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. They are even cheaper than almonds. I have also frozen pesto flat on a 1/4 sheet pan lined with wax paper. Then in the winter, I can just break off the size chunk I need at the time as even frozen, it breaks easily. I found this easier than getting the pesto cubes out of the blasted muffin tin. I have also used ice cube trays but they also had a green residue after the pesto was frozen. The sheet of pesto took care of that problem.
Rebecca in MD says
Thanks for this tip about freezing pesto in a sheet, Tisha. I made pesto yesterday, and used up all my mini containers, so I will try this tip for the next batch!
Rebecca in MD says
I harvested basil yesterday and made my pesto using walnuts that I had on hand in the freezer. This was my first time using walnuts instead of pine nuts, and I love the flavor. So much more budget friendly! Love all the tips posted here on this topic.
I’m not fond of pine nuts so I always use either almonds or pecans…whichever I have more of. I plop my pesto out in scoops on a cookie sheet covered with plastic wrap then freeze. Once frozen I cut the wrap around the mounds, wrap them up and put them in a freezer bag. It’s the perfect size for using as pizza “sauce”, using on grilled cheese sandwiches (yum!), and adding to spaghetti sauce for extra flavor!
I always use almonds! I am allergic to Pine nuts and husband is allergic to walnuts and has started to react to pecans… I actually had my daughter pull a container of pesto from the freezer this morning for tonights supper.. We are grilling chicken breasts and they will be slathered in pesto and covered in provolone! So yum! And uses up stuff from the fridge and freezer!
I also make pesto from parsley and garlic scapes and I always use walnuts since I have access to an abundance of those. Garlic scapes are my favorite pesto. I try to freeze any excess but for some reason, it always disappears very quickly. Pesto is so versatile.
Yvette in Cali says
So… I’m seeing that a lot of folks have found alternative (and cost effective) nuts to use with their pesto. With Marti’s post about using garlic scapes, I remembered something I read about (can’t remember the source), that a lot of folks have an abundance of -MINT! Now, I’ve never tried it myself, because for some reason making pesto intimidates me, but it would be fairly inexpensive to try, especially if you have access to nuts. Just Google “mint pesto,” and you’ll pull up recipes from Martha Stewart and beyond.
And hey, if you finely slice some of those garlic scapes and sprinkle them over scrambled eggs, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven!
A great quick appetizer or midday snack is bruschetta made this way: thinly slice a loaf of crusty Italian bread at an angle. Spread slices on a sheet pan and toast VERY lightly in the oven. Flip the slices, “paint” each slice with pesto and top with a few spoonfuls of freshly cut salsa. So, so good!
I do mine with walnuts because pine nuts are so much more money. I will have to try it with almonds.