If your back porch basil plant looks anything like mine then it means you have a bush instead of a plant. The plant seems to grow back two leaves for every one I use. What to do with all this basil? Make some pesto. Pesto is a delicious summer sauce and your basil plant won’t mind you taking all those leaves for it. It’ll be back to its bush size in no time. Trust me!
Pesto is an easy preparation which is very versatile. You can add it to hot or cold pasta, spoon it on vegetables, use it as a condiment, use it as a rub, add some to mayonnaise for a spread, put it in a salad dressing, the possibilities are endless. You can even freeze it and save some for the fall or winter when you have no basil bush. Like lots of things you make at home, this pesto is much better than the packaged stuff you find in the grocery stores. Sure you can use that stuff in a pinch but why would you want to if you’ve got some of your own summer sunshine sitting in your freezer?
I actually do make pesto with a mortar and pestle we received as a wedding gift. There’s a little bit of extra satisfaction for me in using that kitchen tool. I mean that’s kind of where the name “pesto” came from and supposedly, making pesto this way also releases a lot more of the oils in the basil making for a sharper flavor. I haven’t done any scientific testing of this theory so if you only have a blender or food processor you’ll be fine. Before owning a mortar and pestle I had always used a mini-food processor for making pesto and it worked. On occasion I’ll throw some diced sun-dried tomatoes into the mix. They add a layer of sweetness to the pesto and of course, tomatoes and basil complement each other so well.
So get out there and pick that plant clean to make and save some pesto!
- 2 C basil leaves
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 tsp pine nuts
- ½ C olive oil
- ½ C grated parmesan cheese
Using a mortar and pestle (or food processor/blender) combine the basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts and a pinch of salt. Mash or chop until a paste forms.
Slowly mix in the oil. Add the grated cheese. Taste. Adjust oil, salt, or cheese to your taste.