The Fun of Pesto
I love growing herbs. When planting season comes around, I can’t wait to pull out my terra cotta pots and fill them with contrasting green plants. Even more exciting is knowing our food will be full of fresh flavor without having to purchase expensive, sad looking herbs at the grocery store. To be completely honest, my dream would be to never have to buy anything at a conventional grocery store…ever (like jars of pre-made pesto.) I know it’s a dream, but I’m sure working on it by making and preserving as much as possible at home. Enjoying tasty home made meals is only one reason why growing herbs is so important. In the container part of our garden, we have chosen to grow: chives, thyme, sweet basil, tarragon, oregano, dill, chocolate mint and rosemary. Of course, a typical family could never use that amount of fresh herbs before going bad. This is were preserving steps in. Throughout the growing season, it’s unbelievably convenient and gratifying to walk out and snip a few fresh herbs for your evening meal. Aside from eating them right away, you can also dry the herbs to use throughout the winter. I try to spend a little time every few weeks, usually an early Sunday morning when the town is quiet, clipping fresh herbs with the intention of drying them. By the way, this also helps the plants to bush out for even more production. Finally, I like to turn the excess into a useful product, such as pesto. Pesto is just a finely chopped mix of green herbs, garlic, nuts, cheese and olive oil. It’s great to spread on bread or sandwiches, tossed with pasta for a quick meal or added to other sauces for a fresher flavor. And? It’s SOOO easy. You’ll never waste another basil leaf again. If you make large batches of pesto, you can preserve it by filling ice trays, freezing and popping into a zipper style freezer bag. How convenient when you need something really quick? At last week’s farmer’s market, I picked up some local Fairstream Farms garlic scapes (the curly parts of the top of a garlic plant.) With their strong garlic flavor and woody stems, I knew they would be a perfect pesto. Basil tends to be the main component in pesto, though you can use your imagination! Add in some other herbs that you prefer or even stir in some finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes. If pine nuts aren’t your thing, use walnuts or almonds. It’s all up to you and what you like. Enjoy!
- 1 oz. Sweet Basil (a good, healthy handful plus any other herbs you might like)
- 4 Trimmed Garlic Scapes (or 1 clove garlic)
- ½ oz. Pine Nuts (or nut of choice)
- 2 oz. Shredded Parmesan Cheese (or more if you want)
- ½ c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more or less depending on what you like)
- Sea Salt & Pepper to taste
- Optional add-ins: Sun-dried tomatoes, crushed red pepper, olives
- In a food processor (or blender), finely mix basil, scapes and pinenuts. Stop and scrape down when needed. When well blended, mix in cheese. While running, slowly drizzle in oil. Salt and pepper to taste.