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Fresh from the garden Basil Pesto–I’m here to tell ya–it’s the best-o!!!!

August 2, 2009

I love basil.  I love all herbs, but if I had to chose one I couldn’t live without, it would be basil. I love the flavor and the luscious smell– plus it has the added bonus of  being a really pretty plant.  I love it so much that it doesn’t get relegated to my herb garden–I plant it in big pots and keep it close to the kitchen door.  I only have to take a few steps to reach it–touch it–sniff it–and pinch off what I need.

I use  fresh basil all summer with my garden veggie dishes, but I also harvest it to make pesto.  Basil pesto is awesome fresh, and it tastes exactly the same after it’s been frozen.  I freeze it in 1/2 pint jars and usually try to put up 24-36 jars for the winter.

Lasst weekend I harvested my first batch, (another good thing about basil, is that it replenishes itself quickly.  I’ll cut it 2 or 3 more times before fall), and thought I’d share the pesto recipe I make every year.

First, you have to patiently wait til your basil plants get big enough.  If it tries to bloom before you are ready to cut it, pinch it back.  Flowers tend to make the leaves bitter.

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pot of basil 1pot of basil 2

My two pots of basil consist of two 6 packs of little plants.

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cutting the basilwhat was left

Get some garden snippers or some scissors, and cut the basil, leaving a little so that it will continue to grow.

after it’s cut, the plant should look like this—>                                             Sad, huh? Not to worry!    It comes back quickly!  If it looks a little pale feed it some organic fertilizer.

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Strip the basi leaves from the stems, wash, and pat dry.

what I harvested

basil leaves

<-before

after->

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Put 2 cups basil leaves in the bowl of your food processor.  (pack the leaves as tightly as you can to get as many leaves as possible in each cup.)

press basilAdd 4 cloves garlic, mince,  and  1/2-1 cup nuts (1/2 if you wanna make it not as fattening, 1 if ya want it full bodied)

basil, garlic, pecans

Pulse til coarsely chopped.

chopped pecan basil and garlicAdd 1/2 to 1 cup good olive oil (again depending on how fattening you want the pesto to be) in a stream through the feed tube of your processor while it is running.

pour in the oil

It’ll look kind of—well– yucky–but it smells great!

pesto with oil

Add 3/4 to 1-1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese. (1-1/4 if you want the full monty) I buy it pre-grated but if you are a real “chef”  you can take the time to grate your own.  I’m sure it’s would be just wonderful. Also add salt and pepper to taste.

add the cheese

Pulse to mix only.   Now it looks like………………………………………PESTO

blended cheese

Fill 1/2 pint jars, leaving 1/2″ at the top,  Cap and freeze til ready to use.

fruit of my laborDepending on how much oil, nuts, and cheese you use, you can get 2-1/2 to 3 jars per 2 cups of basil. I harvested enough basil for 3 and 1/2 batches.

PESTO

Makes about 1-1/2 cups to 2 cups

2 c. fresh basil leaves

4 med cloves garlic

½ -1 c. pecans or walnuts

½ -1 c. olive oil

¾ to 1 ¼ c. parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Whir, the basil, garlic and pecans in processor.  With motor running, add olive oil. Stop and add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Whir til just mixed.

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