The following post is from my old blog. I'm re-purposing it for my co-worker, Jack, who wants to know how to make basil pesto. My basil is starting to get a wiley, so I may be making some of this in the near future myself!
There's been a silent duel over the backyard for years.
Years, I tell you.
Some day he decided the backyard was his.
And that was it.
The backyard has been my big brother's since that point. He's done a good job, I'll give him that. Except for the blackberries. He kinda lets them die. But it's not like he hasn't been busy being a police officer and all.
My dreams of planting my own veggies, fruits, herbs in the ground have gone unfulfilled. I've worked around not being able to plant in the ground. I've been planting my herbs in containers. They've survived, but there is something about planting directly in the ground that is so...so...earthy.
When he bought a house this spring, my first thought was, "The backyard is miiiiiiine!!!"
I swooped in faster than a seagull on a french fry at the boardwalk. That plot of land was mine. I hoed that thing. I tilled that thing. I weeded that thing. I poured myself into that plot of land and pulled a hamstring in the process. But it was beautiful. By the time I was finished, I had the most gorgeous herb garden. Not Martha Stewart gorgeous - it's my first year - but it's on its way. I planted 4 varieties of basil (sweet, cinnamon, thai, and globe), parsley, cilantro, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and peppermint. I haven't checked on it for a few days and I nearly fell over when I saw my basil had grown to small bushes. There is no way I was going to use all of that.
The only thing I know of that uses up that amount of basil is...pesto.
I've never made pesto before, but the one drawback for me is the amount of oil. Even though it's good, healthy oil, it's still a lot of fat if you're trying to lose weight. After reading through a number of recipes, I decided to pick my favorite parts of the recipes, smoosh them together, and create my own. I used three varieties of basil from my garden: Sweet Basil, Thai Basil, and Cinnamon Basil. I'm calling this "Trois Pesto de Basilic," which means "Three Basil Pesto." See why I went with the French?
Trois Pesto de Basilic
8 cups loosely packed basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup grated Romano
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup walnuts
3 Tbls garlic
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
The three varieties, aka the "Trois" in Trois Pesto de Basilic.
I gathered more basil than I thought I would need and it turns out I actually gathered the right amount. I stripped the stalks and dropped the leaves into a bowl of water to rinse the dirt. I washed the basil three times to be extra sure no one was going to get a surprise bite of dirt. Ew.
Then I used the food processor to chop/grind some parmesan and romano cheese. There was no way I was going to do that by hand.
Then I poured in a 1/2 cup of pine nuts.
I also added a 1/2 cup of walnuts. You could go all pine nuts or all walnuts if you wanted.
I pulsed the nuts until they were ground. I added 1/2 cup each of the parmesan and romano cheese, and then added a giant handful of basil leaves on top.
I flipped the food processor on and slowly drizzled in the half of the olive oil. After a quick taste, I realized I hadn't added any garlic, so I threw in 3 Tbls of chopped garlic.
I kept adding basil leaves and the rest of the oil until it all came together. Delicious! I purchased some 4 ounce canning jars at Wal-Mart for about $8. I love those little jars. Aren't they adorable?? They're sooo shiny and sparkly.
I packaged them up in small portions so I could give them away at work. The little labels came with the jars thankfully. You could be uber creative and create your own tags, but I'm happy with the little sticky labels.
So what do you with the pesto? Well, you could use it over hot pasta noodles, over gnocchi, over grilled chicken or steak, over fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. You could also stir it into some mayo or sour cream and use as a dip/spread. You could spread it in place of pizza sauce on pizza dough - top with tomato slices and fresh mozzarella and bake. The possibilities are endless. Either way, pesto is a great way to use up a major overabundance of basil. I think I've got enough to make another 3 batches. And I'm not complaining :).