4 cups Italian basil leaves (about 4 ounces, stemmed), washed and dried
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place the basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Pulse, then process until finely chopped to form a paste, adding a little more olive oil as needed so the paste is barely covered with oil.
Transfer to a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and drizzle with oil to barely cover the top. Or transfer 1/2 to 1 cup of the paste to a heavy-duty freezer-safe resealable plastic storage bag, pressing the paste until it’s flattened and removing the extra air, and then seal and freeze.
Variation: To make sweet aromatic herbal pastes for baked goods, use the same ratio for these pastes as for the basil paste: about 4 cups of herb leaves to about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of oil. Use other herbs that don’t keep their same bright flavor when dried such as the mints, lemon basil, lemon balm or lemon verbena, monarda and anise hyssop, and use cold-pressed nut or seed oils. Be sure to label the containers.
When adding these pastes to a batter or dough, take what you need out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for about 5 minutes, until it softens slightly and can be mixed in easily. For a poundcake, loaf of bread or a pan of brownies, use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of herbal paste; for a batch of cookies, scones or muffins, add about 1/4 cup.