What to do with all that basil? PESTO!

What to do with all that basil? PESTO!

I'll start by saying that I have never liked pesto. Any time I tried it at a restaurant, it just didn't do it for me. So, when my husband suggested making pesto with the abundance of basil I had last year, I wasn't really that jazzed. But, what the heck else do you do with all of that basil? So, I made a batch and really, really loved it. Now, I can't imagine not having a massive amount of pesto, made fresh from my garden, at all times. I guess you could say that I love my pesto....

Whether you grow your own basil or buy it at the market (you can buy it in enormous bunches at farmer's markets for just this purpose), trust me when I tell you, you need freshly-made pesto.

The great thing about making pesto is that it keeps for a long time. By simply topping off the top with olive oil so none of the pesto is exposed to the air, you cut down on the oxidation (that's what is happening when it turns brown). Be sure to refrigerate it as well. When you're ready to use the pesto, scrape off the oil from the top and serve!

Here's the recipe I've found turns out the best classic pesto. It's taken from epicurious.com.

Ingredients:
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I take the already grated stuff)
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Sardo or Parmesan cheese 
1 tsp course kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender (I use a food processor). Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil. Add both cheeses and salt; blend until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. 
  2. Use immediately, or to store, put in small jars and cover with about 1/2 inch of olive oil. Refrigerate.

What can you do with pesto? Lots! In addition to putting it on pasta, you can:

  • Toast some crusty bread and use it as a spread. Top it with sun-dried tomatoes, hot pepper flakes or shavings of Parmesan.
  • Add some vinegar and oil and turn it into a salad dressing.
  • Make pesto bread. Take any bread recipe you've got and bake some pesto into it for a tasty herb bread.
  • Pair it with grilled meat or fish like a chimichurri sauce. More of a hamburger kind of person? Spread it on your bun instead of ketchup.
  • Put a dollop in soups. It makes a great pairing with bean, potato or root vegetable (like celeriac) soups.
  • Spread some on your morning eggs.
  • Mix it with cooked red potatoes for a pesto potato salad. Add some red onions and chives for a little extra zing.
  • Replace your red sauce with pesto and make pesto pizza.
  • Make pesto butter. Mix about 3/4 cup of pesto with about 4 TBSP of soft butter.
  • Spread it on corn before you grill it.
  • The possibilities are endless...

What do you do with pesto? Share in the Comments!

My good fortune of Basil in 2014. I'm hoping for the same in 2015 (Crossing fingers)

My good fortune of Basil in 2014. I'm hoping for the same in 2015 (Crossing fingers)

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine