Eating out of the garden all winter long….

For all of you avid herb gardeners out there,

you know that your basil plants are just about done.  If you’re in a warmer climate, like I am, they are still thriving, but  not looking as lush as they did in the heat of the summer.  They love warm nights, but as the nights cool, the plants start to wind down.  This is a perfect time to harvest the extra leaves and create a wonderful pesto to enjoy with pasta on bread or in other creative ways. Pesto comes from the verb pestare which means “to pound or grind.”  If you want to recreate the method of the old Italian cooks, use a  mortar and pestle.  But with today’s food processors, the process is much easier.  And you can freeze the extras so you’ll have it on hand this winter.

You can use either a full size food processor or if you do small batches, like I do, a mini-food processors works great. I prefer walnuts over the pine nuts due to cost difference.  I’ve also used unsalted pistachios.  They’re all delicious and lend their own unique taste to the finished product. Try toasting the nuts in a 350 degree oven for 5 – 10 minutes to enrich their flavor.

Christine’s Basil Pesto

  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp grated Asiago parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves with stems removed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Process the garlic, cheese, nuts and basil until finely minced

Add the olive oil and process for a 15 – 20 seconds more until blended well.

That’s it!  Place in either a glass custard dish or in a plastic resealable container with a layer of waxed paper directly on the top surface.  This helps preserve the bright green color.  Store in the refrigerator and use within a day or two.

This freezes beautifully.  Some cooks use an ice cube tray to freeze cubes of pesto.  They defrost quickly this way and are very easy to use.  I like to use empty plastic containers that I’ve recycled from either 4 oz yogurt or applesauce portions. I then place each container in a ziplock bag.  If you use ice cube trays, pop out of the trays when frozen and store in a large ziplock bag.  Either way, the pesto is always readily available until next Spring’s crop is ready. You can use it soups, stews and other cooked dishes, but add at the end of the cooking process as the heat will reduce the intensity of the flavors.

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Christine’s Notes:

This weekend we created a delicious sandwich by spreading my homemade pesto on one side of a ciabatta roll, then topping with ham, cheese, a sweet pickle sandwich stuffer, shredded lettuce, tomato and French’s Honey Dijon mustard.  Delicious!

You can also create wonderful pestos with other herbs and leafy plants. Arugula blends beautifully with walnuts, Parmesan, garlic and, of course, olive oil. Try some of these combos or come up with your own matings, adding your choice of nuts, Parmesan cheeses and enough oil to bring to the desired consistency.

  • oregano, flat-leaf parsley (Italian) and spinach
  • cilantro and flat-leaf parsley
  • chives, flat-leaf parsley and spinach
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3 responses to “Eating out of the garden all winter long….

  1. Love this and the smell of Basil. When I have an abundance I put in a vase and enjoy like flowers.

                                                      ….Just Saying

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  2. Pingback: The third day of Pudbudder is here….. | Pudbudder – It's all about fun!