pesto factory

it's basil harvest time....... 

and Mia is helping me locate the best of the crop for my all morning pesto making extravaganza

first i must snip off all the flowering tops

strip the leaves off all the stalks

wash in a sinkful of water and then dry well

load them into the food processor (mine is ancient but still works after 20 odd years!)

break off chunks of parmesan pick-axe style with the tip of a knife (be sure to use good reggiano parmesan)

and save the rind! (i like to throw them in when i'm making risotto as it imparts extra creaminess)

toss in the garlic and pine nuts (good lord, these are getting expensive........i wonder why?)

add a stream of olive oil (extra virgin) as you process the ingredients

remove the lid and admire the glorious goodness........take in the fragrance, ahhh.........

scrape pesto out with a rubber spatula.....

and portion into freezer bags

voila - my little soldiers all lined up and ready for storage!

trust me, there is nothing better on a cold snowy day than taking one of these out of the freezer, defrosting and melting into a bowl of steaming hot pasta -- it releases a burst of summer in the midst of the coldest winters.........

and Mia agrees heartily!! 

Here is the recipe 
buon appetito and happy pesto-making my friends!!

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts 
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


    1. Mmmmm...almost smell-a-vision! If it smells that good to humans imagine what Mia smells - must be in doggy heaven.

      My recipe is the same - even the ancient food processor and freezer baggies!

      Pine nuts are expensive because of some pinon tree blight for many years now. Drive the SW US and see whole dead groves. Climate change weakens trees and the domino effect begins.

      Pesto can be made with other nuts and even other green herbs - after all it is "paste" in Italian. Walnuts and parsley is nicely zingy.

    2. I'm right there with you! Wish though that I had that much basil!

    3. p.s. sometimes I use walnuts, instead of pine nuts, and the result is hardly discernable.

    4. I usually make this every year in late summer but this year did not have enough basil of my own. Fortunately, a friend has shared several baggies for my freezer.

      What a great idea to use walnuts in place of pine nuts! Mia is adorable.


    5. sistah -- yes - you are correct of course! i have never tried it, but using other nuts for pesto is a great alternative -- and thank you for the explanation about pine nuts having gotten so is so sad to learn this about the trees.

      thank you for your creative ideas lovely sister!

      rosaria -- next time i will try walnuts, which i love too! just wondering - where you live is the season short for growing basil?

      genie - how lucky you are to have a friend like that to share her pesto!

      and thanks - mia is a wonderful dog (and at 13 still going strong thank goodness!)

    6. ooh I am drooling - I LOVE basil pesto!! and Mia is gorgeous xx

    7. I love home-made pesto. I think it tastes so much better than the store-bought variety. And it's true, it's like a burst of summer every time you eat pesto in winter.

    8. YUm!!!
      I can smell that fresh Basil all the way over here or should I shay down here ;)

      You make it just like I do and I know how good it tastes.

      My Basil is just starting to show it's beautiful face. I planted seeds a short while ago as we are in Spring.

      Remember to keep the heads of that lovely Basil for planting next year.

      x Robyn

    9. hey val -- thanks darlin' - wish i could send some your way! xxx

      loree - i use store-bought pesto in a pinch, but you're right-- there's no substitute for fresh!


      robyn what a great idea!! heirloom basil!! is that what you grow?

      i'm trying to imagine early summer now down under -- do you grow tomatoes as well?

      thanks for visiting dear robyn!!


    10. yes, yes, yeS!! i LOVE pesto and could almost live on it alone. I must admit to being too much in a hurry at times to make it (no time after work), and then only make a small quantity in my molcajete, a mexican mortar and pestle. I've been using walnuts for a few years, pine nuts are out of control expensive here.

      I WISH i had a crop of basil like you Amanda, wow!


    11. That tunnel of wisteria at the bottom of your blog page - where is it? it is stunning - i would love to sit there on that bench awhile. xx

    12. Dear Sisters-thank you for the explanation of why pine nuts cost so much, Deb-I don't make pesto-but I had used them in the Monica pasta, Panda. Mia is a good pesto helper and I look forward to seeing her soon!

    13. lori - that's cool that you make pesto the old-fashioned way -- a real mortar and pestle! i've no doubt it tastes even better made that way♡

      val - i wish i knew where that foto of the wisteria was taken but it is stunning, isn't it? -- i saw it originally on another blogger's website called a nomadic view and maybe he credits where it comes from?

      famous - using pine nuts in anything is good, but monica pasta? great idea - never thought of that!


    14. Came here cause I've seen your name around and we share the same name.
      And then I saw the world's most wonderful dog. Even though I now have an Alsation I do miss my Airedale, Denny with her gentle nature and daftness

    15. Your blog brings me right home.. so much wonderfulness in this post, I don't know where to begin! I can almost taste each and every glorious bite in your gorgeous photos. You know how much I love your pesto. Maybe I can take a baggy for winters here :) :) That's so sad that the pine nut trees have been so damaged, I hope they are able to return to full health soon. You know I love those too.

      The pictures of beautiful Miss Mia make me smile too :) I love her new pink bow! Wonder how long this one will last, haha. Love you! xo

      p.s. Your garden looks so lush and green! Can't believe how bountiful that tiny patch of earth can be.. well done! :)

    16. Looks delicious!
      And I never knew that the parmesan rind would add extra creaminess to my rissoto! I'm going to try that this week, thanks :-)

    17. Hi Amanda,
      I'm the other Deborah (temptation of words) and want to thank you for visiting and leaving your kind words at my blog.

      I'm very intrigued by your profile - you've got a passion that's rather exceptional. Don't run into an archaelogist every day in blogland!

      Pesto should be a staple food! I am impressed with your production of it, and the fact that you use only the best ingredients. I only wish the the scent of fresh basil was equalled by its taste, but it's all so darn good that one can hardly complain.

    18. Yum - homemade pesto is the best, walnuts work in the paste and then top with a few pine nuts when serving. I've also made Roasted Red Pepper pesto - and wowee yum!

      Enjoy your bounty

    19. fire byrd -- you mentioned daftness, that is so funny! airedales are such amusing pets and we love ours so --- i'm sorry your denny has now passed. i don't know alsations, however, are they similar in temperament?

      elena sweetie!! thanks so much --- and i would love to send some fresh pesto your way!! count on me fixing you up a big bowl when you are home over thanksgiving along with some salmon (except mr. alex won't be able to eat that hehe!!) love you so much my sweet pea and thank you for your kind comments! xoxoxo

      hi sara louise - do try throwing in the rind and i hope you like the results - i love the frugality of cuisines which wisely use all their resources ;-) thank you for visiting!

      deborah - how nice to meet you! thanks for visiting and i completely agree - pesto should be a staple food!

      hello mim!! that is a fabulous idea - using walnuts in the paste and then topping with pine nuts - a much more economical solution ~ and roasted red pepper pesto sounds too good - would you be willing to share your recipe? if so please email me!

      thanks mim!! xoxo

    20. Oh. My. Gosh. That looks soooo good! I can practically smell it through my screen. I'm super impressed that you make your own. I'm inspired to give it a try.

    21. Mmm. I adore pesto and make my own, too. I love a dollop in a bowl of fresh farmer's market soup.

    22. And there are your many bracelets again! So pretty and exotic! I like to watch you prepare it, but the garlic, the garlic...
      Still, I love Mia`s face!

    23. julie - please do give it a try - it isn't nearly as hard as it seems and the payoff is so worth it!

      willow - fabulous idea! will try that dollop of pesto the next time i make soup - thanks!

      geli - yes, my bracelets made it into the shot --- and did you happen to notice a new one? the gorgeous little dolphin headed bracelet was sent by sweet lola! if you haven't seen it, she wrote a post about our bracelets here

    24. Pesto — presto! — when made by Amanda (and Mia).

      Looks so good!

    25. I am so jealous of your basil crop (not really, I am happy for you).
      Look at that, Mia must've been going crazy with all that amazing aroma. Your garden smells like heaven, I bet.

      My pesto recipe is exactly the same, except I mix Parmigiano AND Pecorino Romano, and skip the pepper. For authenticity's sake, boil the pasta along with a fistful of string beans and a chopped potato. This makes the pasta cooking water more starchy, and green, setting the hue for the final outcome. This is 100% certified insider Genova pesto-knowledge coming your way.

      Oh, and when whirring in food processor: "SHORT BURSTS" otherwise the blades heat up and that taints the basil leaves, essentially "cooking" them.

      Bravaaa. I do the same thing, make a truckload and freeze in small portions. We don't have Ziploc bags here (I covet them), so I use plastic cappuccino cups with snap tops.

      Except now I want to eat pesto. Off to defrost.

      E xx

    26. monsieur bear -- i wish it were as easy as presto! but still very much worth the effort ;-)

      lola, of course excellent points and i will note them all. you are so correct about not just running the processor continuously, but in short bursts. and i love that recipe with the green beans and potatoes to add starch - brava! this will be the prima pasta i make with the first defrosting.

      with big hugs,


      p.s. your plastic cappuccino cups for storage are genius!

    27. I love pesto, I have 2 huge basil plants...I'd better get started!! I love this post, all of the photos are so beautiful to look at.


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