The pesto blobs look darn cute, too.

The Best O’ Pesto

Posted on Posted in Culinary Science, Recipes

I. Love. Pesto.  It’s fresh, spicy, invigorating, and just a nice change from plain ol’ olive oil or cheese.  You can add it to anything– pasta’s a favorite, but it works on meat, veggies, and even dessert (really).  My roommate mixes it with hummus as a dip and as a thick sauce (greek yogurt or silken tofu work for sauce too).  But, pesto is a pain to make, since it requires a bunch of ingredients and you have to wash a blender in addition to the normal pots and pans of dinner-making.  Also, you need a lot of basil but not an entire bunch, and basil goes bad quickly.  What to do?  Well, I was looking at my bakeware recently and something hit me.  Freeze it!  But not in ice cube trays, I’d have to  use half the tray for one dish.  Instead, I use silicone cupcake holders!  They fill easily, freeze well, and peel off beautifully.

Pesto cupcakes |
The pesto blobs look darn cute, too.

Then, just throw one in the pan of whatever you want pestoed to defrost it while the meal is cooking.

This is how I made these:

  • 1 bunch basil from the farmers’ market (about 4 cups?)*
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (or any other mild nut), toasted
    *If basil’s too expensive, cut the basil with some spinach.  The flavor’s not as strong, but the color’s even nicer and I kind of like the light bitterness it adds.

— Throw these in a blender and blend.  If your blender’s cheap like mine, throw in about a tablespoon of water to aid the process.
Taste it (turn the blender off first, please) and add to taste:

  • Parm/romano, grated
  • Salt

Turn the blender on again, and add:

  • Olive oil

until the texture is pesto-like.
This pesto is a lot leafier than the pesto you’d normally get at a restaurant– those are very heavy in oil (and therefore, calories) and not as pungent.  Also, I usually add a little more oil to the pan I’m cooking the pestofied food in, so I don’t want too much in the pesto itself.

Pour the pesto into the cupcake molds on a freezer-safe plate (you’ll make about 6) and freeze overnight.  To save room in the freezer, you can peel off the molds the next day and put the pesto cupcakes in a freezer bag. Then just pop one in a hot pan or the microwave (I actually don’t have one, so that’s not an option for me).  This technique also works great for big batches of marinara sauce.  Enjoy!

Frozen Pesto

Frozen Pesto


  • 1 bunch basil (about 4 cups), or a mix of basil and spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (or any other mild nut), toasted
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, approximately


  1. Blend the first 5 ingredients until smooth. If you want the basil to retain perfectly bright green color, blanch first by dunking in boiling water for 30 seconds followed by an ice bath.
  2. Drizzle in the olive oil with the blender running until it reaches desired texture.
  3. Pour into muffin tins and freeze, then pop out and store in freezer bags.