Frugal Homeade Pesto Recipe
Our growing season up here in Wyoming is quite short (Memorial Day to Labor Day) so growing a full garden is kind of hard. But there are a few things that I find are worth the time to grow at home as there is a great return in my investment.
I usually buy basil plants already started, because I want to harvest my basil early and not mess with starting them from seeds.
At around $3.00 for a 3-4 inch pot of basil it may seem expensive. However I have found that if you look at each container closely you may find that there are actually 4 or 5 little basil plants in each pot. So I carefully separate each individual basil seedling and plant it separately in the garden. I usually buy 5 or 6 pots of basil and end up with 20-30 basil plants which yields me armloads of fresh basil perfect for turning into fresh pesto which I freeze for use year-round.
This recipe is my adaptation on any standard pesto recipe that you can find in any good cookbook. It is adapted to include fresh spinach leaves, which when there is a good sale and coupon combo on Fresh Express or Dole salad mixes that also include baby spinach I can usually get for free after coupons in the Summer months. Many pesto recipes call for pine nuts which are great if you can find them, however in a pinch I have found that walnuts work great and are often cheaper ounce for ounce than pine nuts.
The most expensive ingredient ends up being the olive oil, while I am always on the lookout for a great deal on olive oil with my coupons and usually have a nice stockpile of a few bottles, if you cannot score a deal with your coupons, then just buy a large bottle and compare the unit price to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Frugal Homemade Pesto Recipe
- 2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves, Packed
- 2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves, Packed
- 1 Cups Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated is best, but because I am cheap sometimes I go ahead and use the Kraft brand)
- 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 Medium Garlic Cloves, Peeled
- 2/3 Cup Pine Nuts (or Walnuts)
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Combine basil, spinach, garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor, pulse a few times.
- Slowly stream the olive oil through the food processor feed tube while the processor is running on low speed. About half way through, stop the food processor to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is getting processed.
- Add the grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt & pepper to taste and pulse a few times to incorporate.
Serving suggestions: Toss with any pasta and eat! Pesto is also really good on grilled corn on the cob, chicken, steak, and pork chops.
To freeze: Spoon finished pesto into freezer safe bags or containers, and store in freezer for up to 8 months. Because I have a large family I freeze in 1 cup portions. You may want to do smaller or larger portion sizes depending on your needs. You can also freeze in ice cube trays and once frozen pop out your pesto cubes and freeze in larger freezer bags and thaw as many cubes as you need. You can add a one or two pesto cubes to your favorite marinara sauce or soups in the winter.