Michigan Food Finds

Storing and Freezing Garden Harvest

It’s getting close to closing down my vegetable garden for the season. Now is the time to process the bounty of herbs and produce for canning and freezing to enjoy during the winter months. My fresh basil grew like crazy this summer and fall so I started with making and freezing pesto.


Basil Pesto

3          cloves garlic, unpeeled
½         cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2          cups packed basil leaves
¼         cup pine nuts, toasted
¼         cup grated Parmesan cheese
½         teaspoon kosher salt
¼         teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place garlic cloves in small piece aluminum foil, drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil, loosely close and bake for 20 minutes. Cool slightly before squeezing garlic from skin.

Add roasted garlic cloves, basil, pine nuts, cheese, salt and pepper to food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down sides as needed. Drizzle in remaining oil while processor is running until well combined. Toss with cooked pasta, use as a condiment for grilled meats or a marinade.
Yield: 1 cup pesto

Cook’s Tip: Place pesto in ice cube trays, cover with a thin layer of olive oil and freeze overnight. Remove from ice cube tray and place in a zip top freezer safe bag  or container for up to 6 months. Also, I have skipped the step of roasting the garlic and it is just as delicious with a more pungent garlic forward flavor.

basil plant

Lately, we have been eating our grape tomatoes as fast as I am picking them. Including our dogs (did you know dogs love tomatoes?!) In the past, I have roasted them on a sheet pan with garlic, basil, salt and pepper and froze in freezer safe zip top bag.

Roasted Tomatoes

4              cups grape tomatoes
4              cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2              tablespoons olive oil
¼             cup thinly slice fresh basil
½             teaspoon coarse salt
¼             teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss all ingredients together on a sheet pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring once, or until charred in spots. Cool completely and place in a freezer safe zip top bag. Consume within six months.

Cook’s Tip: Toss roasted tomatoes with hot pasta for a quick dinner.  Or, try baking roasted tomatoes a pie plate topped with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. They can even been pureed for a smooth sauce.

Even though it can be exhausting transforming basil and tomatoes into freezable feasts, it is so worth having that taste of summer many months from now.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

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