Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Got Basil? Hello Pesto!

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.

No contest.

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. So THAT'S what happens when you plant herbs in the ground...they explode!

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? Yeah.

I still have a TON Of basil left - if you've got any suggestions, feel free to pass them along!

-- Erin :-)

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 minced garlic
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, chop the walnuts and pine nuts together. Add in the paremesan, romano, garlic, and a handful of basil. Turn the processor on and slowly drizzle in half the olive oil. Keep adding basil and drizzling in olive oil until everything is processed and smooth.

I packaged my pesto in little 4oz jars that I got from WalMart for $8 (I used 9 of the 12 jars in the box) and gave them away to my co-workers. If you want to freeze the pesto, don't add the cheeses (the cheese doesn't do so well frozen). Line an ice cube tray with plastic wrap, fill each ice cube hole with pesto. Freeze and then put the little pesto cubes in a freezer bag. When you're ready to use the pesto cubes, thaw as many as you need and stir some grated parmesan/romano cheese.

Use the pesto over hot pasta, on a sandwich, mixed in with some mayo as a dip, on pizza dough in place of pizza sauce...so many yummy possibilities!

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~ Jack & Erin

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