If you are like me, you are probably wishing you could wiggle your nose like Samantha Stevens and turn your seemingly endless supply of Basil leaves into cute, little bottled jars of pesto in an instant. Complete with bows on the lids and fancy labels. But the reality is, you are not a witch like Samantha Stevens, apparently they only exist in tv land. Therefore you must roll up your sleeves and deal with the Basil acreage on your own. Dammit…why is tv make-believe only?
I have 2 Basil plants at the Homestead and one in my garden in the City, and it is now time to start packing away as much summer flavour as I can. Mainly because Basil does not keep well once you pluck the leaves off the stems. Basil is difficult to dry, succeptible to cold (it turns black) and generally makes you curse that you can’t possibly go through so much basil before the plant bolts.
I have good news though. There are several preserving / canning recipes that I use loads of basil for. One is a tomato/basil sauce that is so easy and best of all, it goes right into the freezer, therefore no canning jars, boiling water canning hassle and mess. Just simmer a pot full, ladle into freezer jars and finito – done. More on that in the very near future – as soon as my tomato farm ripens.
But the best use (and most popular) for Basil is to turn all those lovely, fragrant green leaves into Pesto.
It isn’t that difficult to make and there really are only a few ingredients. All you need is a blender or food processor, a whack of basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts and good olive oil and of course some really good Pecorino Cheese. Whipped up in no time, this stuff is awesome on pasta, chicken, pork, even salmon (the heck with the no cheese on seafood rule). Oh, and wait until you try it on a pizza in place of the normal pizza sauce….ooooo yeah…yummo with a capital Y.
Easy Basil Pesto
2 Cups Fresh picked Basil Leaves
2 Cloves Garlic, smashed
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
2/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 Freshly grated Pecorino Cheese
Combine basil leaves, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Pulse to a course consistency. Slowly drizzle 1/2 Cup of the Olive Oil and process until smooth and fully incorporated. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.
If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.
Enjoy…..and if you are making pizza, I will be over in a jiffy!