The basil in my garden has gone crazy. I suddenly have tons of it. I thought it was all pretty much dead and burned out from the heat and lack of rain. But in the last few weeks we have had a lot of rain and the temperatures have dropped. The evil Bermuda invaded and pretty much choked out my tomatoes and peppers, and radishes. And the deer ate every bit of my Swiss chard down to the nub. The view from my kitchen window told me the basil was all dead but once I actually walked out there and took a closer look, the basil was anything but dead. It regenerated itself and it’s the lone survivor of summer. And there is lots.
Lots and lots. I went out and picked a big bowl full and brought it into the house and washed it and laid it out on a fresh kitchen towel to dry.
I decided to make Basil Pesto with all of it and got to work shredding a wedge of Parmesan cheese. Basil Pesto is one of those things that I kind of just put together in my food processor. But today I took some notes so that I could write down some measurements. The big bowl of basil that I picked ended up making two batches.
I took about half of the basil leaves and put them in a 4 cup measuring cup. I packed it in. I used a whole grated wedge of Parmesan cheese per batch. I used the juice of 1/2 of a lemon, 1/4 cup of pine nuts and about 5 peeled cloves of garlic with about 1/2 cup of olive oil.
I did not add salt which I usually do but the Parmesan cheese was salty enough and so I left it out. I would taste your pesto and if needed add the salt in then.
Here is the recipe:
4 cups of basil, washed, dried, and packed into the measuring cup.
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1 wedge (about 8oz or half a pound) of Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 lemon, juiced and seeded
1/2 cup olive oil
Add the basil leaves to the bowl of your food processor. Add the garlic, pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese, and the lemon juice. Turn on machine and slowly add the olive oil through the top in a slow stream as the machine is running. Scrape the bowl down a few times in between processing. Process until you have a nice spreadable consistency. Add more olive oil to thin it out if you need to.
For each batch that I made I was able to get about 5 mini jelly jars of pesto.
I filled each jar with the Basil Pesto and then I drizzled some olive oil on top to help keep the pesto a bright green. (basil pesto will oxidize and turn brown and the olive oil helps keep the air out.) Then I put the lids and bands on them. Store it in the refrigerator and I would use it up within a week or two. Freeze the rest.
Basil Pesto is great on pasta and chicken. I have added it to the top of soups like Minnestrone, spread it on hot Italian bread and of course its fabulous on bruschetta. You can either spread some on your bread slice and then add the bruschetta topping or prepare your bruschetta and then add a dollop of pesto on top. The bruschetta at The Village Tavern is made this way with a dollop on top and shards of Parmesan cheese with capers scattered on top. I LOVE their bruschetta.
I still have a bunch of basil still out in the garden waiting to be picked. I’ll probably be making Basil Pesto all week long now. As long as we don’t get an early frost, I still have lots of time to get to it.
Basil Pesto freezes well and so this winter we should be well stocked. And I have more than enough for friends and neighbors. How about you? Do you like Basil Pesto? Ever made it? And how to you like to serve it? I would love to hear your ideas.