We just got home from a BBQ. This afternoon, after a full morning of working on the deck, I realized we were supposed to bring our own meat to BBQ and a side dish. Eeek! I hadn’t thought about it until just then and had no food in the house.

But then I remembered the pesto. I always have pesto and I always have chicken in the freezer. So, I cut the chicken into slices, added some oil and salt and the defrosted frozen pesto and we were on our way. Pesto is great for more than just pasta and can be easily made in big batches in the late summer when basil is abundant and cheap and frozen to be used the rest of the year.

Whenever I grow my own basil, I seem to end up with bunches and bunches of it that I am never able to use up quickly enough. This is a great use for all that basil.

I figured out the trick for freezing pesto many years ago after having dinner with friends. When they pulled their pesto out of the freezer it was black. It still tasted great, but it totally lacked that fresh green color that is so indicative of a great pesto.

I knew that there must be a way to preserve the pesto’s freshness and still be able to freeze it long term. So, I started to experiment.

The key is to freeze it without the oil and salt. It then keeps its bright green color for a very long time. I make large batches of pesto in the summer and then we have fresh bright green pesto all winter long. I put it on pasta with chicken Italian sausages and veggies and also marinate chicken in it.

Anyone have other great ideas for how to use pesto?

My Pesto Recipe

I kept this recipe on the smaller side so that it is easily manageable. This should make about four pouches. It can be easily multiplied to create more.

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
3 cloves of garlic

Put all of the above ingredients into a food processor or blender and spin until well blended but not yet a paste.

Take four little plastic sandwich baggies and divide the pesto between the baggies. The pesto should be just less than an inch all along the bottom of the bag. If you have enough for five bags use five, or if there is only enough for three bags that is fine too.

Roll the bags up tight and put in the freezer.

When you want to use them, just take out a bag and throw it in the microwave on defrost for 30 seconds. Then you can add it to a bowl of cooked pasta or in a bag of chicken to marinate with oil and salt to taste.

The best part of making pesto this way is that you have complete control over the amount of oil and salt that you use. You would be amazed how little oil you need.