Sunday, September 02, 2012

Growing Basil and making Basil Pesto

There is no headier scent than that of freshly picked Basil. Having grown several varieties over the years we always seem to favour Sweet Genovese. This broad leafed and bushy basil does well here and despite a dodgy start, it has done wonderfully well this year and we have plenty to use on a whole array of dishes.

We will use the smaller, sweeter leaves chopped on fresh ripe tomatoes with thinly sliced garlic, rock salt and a grinding or two of black pepper. Alternatively we will use the smaller tender leaves in a mixed green salad but it can over-power other flavours if used in excess. We use a lot of herbs in our cooking and shredded basil is used in many of our vegetable, bean and chickpea recipes along with fresh oregano and thyme, a touch of sage and mint or fennel leaves for that wonderful rich and flavoursome Mediterranean meets north African flavour.

One use for basil that we have always wanted to try is fresh Basil Pesto. I can smell it now as I remember those simple Italian pastas and spaghetti we used to eat on pavement terraced restaurants in Rome on warm and balmy summer evenings, served with fresh bread and a glass of red, nothing better.

This year we have grown enough for several summer evenings.

Here's what we did:

Fresh Basil Pesto

100g fresh washed basil
2 garlic cloves
50g of toasted hazelnuts (or pine nuts)
180 ml of olive oil
60g Parmesan cheese
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and Pepper

Pop the hole lot into a food processor and blitz until you reach the required consistency. Add a touch more oil and stir.

It will keep in a jar in the fridge for up to two weeks and preserve well if topped up with oil to exclude the air from oxidising the basil.

So far we have had it with Tallarin (pasta), spread thinly on roasted slices of aubergine, with cheese and onion toasties and as an ingredient with stuffed marrow. My favourite though has got to be with plain and simple pasta. Couple of spoonfuls, knob of butter, splash of olive oil, black pepper mixed into freshly boiled pasta, served with tomato and garlic salad, fresh crusty bread and a glass of wine. Who needs Rome?

1 comment:

  1. Oh Yum. Thank you for the additional tips. I have grown both sweet and Roman basil this year but never made pesto.


Click link to read more.