Excited at the prospect of having ample space for a herb garden, I could possibly have been a little over zealous when it came to planting my basil… two little basil bushes would have been ample, but they are so tiny as seedlings in their punnets…
So, if one punnet of common basil wasn’t enough, I decided to get a punnet of Thai basil as well, and then lo and behold… there was an abundance of little self-seeders that popped up unexpectedly, and well… I felt compelled to nurture and water them all into spectacular abundance.
Then comes the question… “What to do with it all?”. One or two sprigs of basil… easy peasy… salad, garnish, in every single dish that graces the dinner table. Needless to say you start to crave other flavours… and then there are all of the other herbs in the garden that are in equal abundance and in equal desperation of use.
Pesto, of course, is always a favourite, and while I love cooking, I love making things easier for myself. Making a small batch of pesto every time I want to use it is just not time efficient, so I opt for making large batches and freezing them in manageable quantities so I can use them in pasta, salads, and the copious other dishes that can handle this incredible burst of flavour.
So here is my basic basil pesto recipe… not sure where I originally got it from, so sorry… can’t parcel on the credits, and it has also seen many modifications over the years which may or may not be entirely untraditional; without parmesan, with almonds, macadamias, even bunya nuts, mixed with other herbs – coriander, rocket, parsley… and also occasionally with chilli and/or lemon juice… oh, I have even added olives and anchovies… it is just how the moment hits me. I guess I am pretty loose with my ingredients… my pesto is definitely not an exact formula… and sometimes it’s really not even pesto anymore…
Purists… feel free to lose interest now… Non purists… Enjoy!
½ cup pine nuts
2 cups basil leaves (or a big bunch I guess)
3 garlic cloves – crushed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
50g Parmesan – fresh, finely grated
Lightly toast pine nuts. I do this in a heavy based frypan, shuffling the pan, so they won’t burn, but do it on a baking tray in the oven if this feels safer. Allow to cool.
Put all of the ingredients in a food processor… or use a mortar and pestle if you have the time and energy… and give a whirl for a few seconds until all of the ingredients are nicely combined and an even texture.
Pesto will keep in the refrigerator covered in a fine layer of olive oil for 1-2 weeks, but I prefer to make mine into portions and freeze in ziplock bags, so that it keeps the optimum freshness (well, as fresh as frozen gets) and save the risk of spoiling – nobody likes food poisoning. That is unless I am going to use it all in one sitting… which has been known to happen and is a very efficient way of utilising ALL of the basil in the garden.
Use on everything!
This story was written by Petra Frieser – Pebbles + Pomegranate Seeds