Each year, I grow Genovese basil and at the end of the summer, I make basil butter , pesto and these cubes. I put it all into the freezer to use throughout the non growing months.
I use the basil/olive oil cubes in pesto, soups, stews, pastas...just about everything! They are so small that they thaw immediately, imparting a wonderful flavor. They are a great way to jazz up pre made sauces or soups.
This recipe is easily halved but for 2 ice cube trays, you will need:
20 cups of freshly cleaned basil leaves. They don't need to be dry.
1 cup olive oil plus extra for "topping off."
2 ice cube trays
small cookie scoop
Harvest your basil and give it a rough shake. Make sure to get rid of any hitch hikers!
I dunk all the basil into a sink full of water and give it a good shake under water. Then I start harvesting the leaves. If you are only doing a little, you can pinch the stem at the end of the leaf...but that takes a long time when you harvest as much as I do.
What I do is inspect the front of the stem I'm working on. Then I flip it over and take scissors and clip the base of the leaves around the stems. This works as a double duty....clipping goes fast and you can inspect the bottom of the leaf for anything that shouldn't be there.
After I am done, I have a bowl full of gorgeous basil leaves.
Notice the little fingers trying to get in the photo.....yeah, smack them so they go away....
I work in two batches of 10 cups each because if I do it all at once, it overfills my food processor! This works out to be 10 cups of basil and 1/2 cup olive oil for 1 tray
Begin by adding large handfuls of the basil into your food processor along with a steady stream of olive oil. Continue adding olive oil until you get a nice thick consistency. Keep adding basil alternately with the olive oil until done. You'll need to scrape the bowl down.
Make sure you use plenty of olive oil or the basil will turn black. I like it when it is the consistency of a dip.
Scoop it into your ice cubes trays.
Drizzle each cube with a thin layer of olive oil to keep it from turning black.
Then, pop them into your freezer for 3-4 hours. Once hard, pop the cubes out and store them in a freezer bag.
With my trays, they need help popping out. I set them on the counter about 8 minutes and then use a plastic spatula and slip it behind each cube on one side. That usually does the trick. They can be stubborn though. Whatever you do, DO NOT pour hot water over the back...it not a good idea!
This is what they look like. The basil is still pretty and green.....no black stuff.
32 yummy basil ice cubes ready for service.....Use 1 - 2 cubes in your dishes. Use a minimum of 2 when making pesto.
I use these cubes instead of dried basil, they are so much better...totally worth the effort.
If you are thinking you can't do this because you live in an apartment, I started out in an apartment with 1 basil plant. You just make fewer cubes...but it is STILL better than that dried stuff in a jar!