Basil is on. On and in everything these days. Eggs, toasts, salads, pork, fish, chicken, dips. It is also THE base for classic pesto…like that’s any news. But this is a reminder to make it cause it’s so good and easy. Grown best under cover in the San Juan Islands, with a little protection from the wind and chill, basil is making itself known here on Orcas Island. Once again, generous friends sharing their riches have opened their garden gates….
You want to pick the fresh tops to tell the plant it’s NOT time to go to seed, reproduce and make new baby basils… not that that can happen here as it’s just too cold for self sowing. I will find sometimes, a couple tomato seedlings whose seeds not only survived a winter but went on to germinate and grow leaves, usually in the greenhouse and usually mid summer when it’s actually too late for the little guys to grow big and produce. But I’m here to tell you about the BASIL classic that never gets old…. well at least not till you’ve made enough pesto to plaster a wall and still enough left over to freeze in ice cube trays for the winter.
This is classic basil pesto 101. Totally easy. Totally fresh. Totally yummy…And SIMPLE.
I pick the leaves off 4 big bunches if you were to buy it, to end up with about 6 cups fresh basil. I pretty much pack my cuisinart. Add a 1 cup olive oil.
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (or small 3 oz) bag of pine nuts.
1/8 cup lemon juice and 1 clove of garlic. I like the garlic to just say a little hello not safeguard me from vampires in a 25 mile range …matter of personal preference.
Throw a 1/2 tsp of salt in too. Nothing worse than an unsalted pesto…again my opinion.
Now puree till completely smooth… that’s it. Yields a good 2 cups.
- 6 cups packed basil in the cuisinart
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 parmesan cheese
- 1/8 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- PS – You can refine your own preferences for garlic,nuts,cheese…. but this is a good base.
To save pesto, put it neatly in a container and wipe the sides down. Cover lightly with olive oil.
It’s lovely to coat your salmon or of course toss in your favorite pasta. But one of my favorite ways to snack is to spread pesto on a wasa rye crisp, with avocado and balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sea salt. My neighbor Hannah introduced that to me about ummm… 18 years ago. The sweetest thing is every single time, I mean EVERY single time I eat it. I think of her. In theory, I’m sure I should have started this post with that fact to draw you, the reader, in. But frankly, I like to save the nugget for the end.
One last thing. As truly wonderful the classic pesto is, if you want to get a little freaky try this cashew chipolte pesto from MadHaus Frau. She’s got a world of creative and amazement going on over there.
Rock on Garth,
Ok, one very very last bit…. Another pleasure presented in abundance in some summers… CRAB- either bought from the store or shellfish farm down the road OR gifted from those with traps who are just sick of all the crab meat and drop it at your door step in the middle of the night like a basket of zucchini. Not really. Crab is given and received with great gratitude by both parties.
I mixed a little tarter sauce, horseradish and pesto for a dip with cold crab… delicious.