I stopped by a great vegetable/fruit store today and they were selling basil plants with lots of leaves ready to be picked. I should’ve grabbed some.
Pesto on fresh pasta is a wonderful summer dish. With a side dish of sweet tomatoes drizzled with olive oil…awesome.
Some great comments about pesto above. Especially the one that says that the list of ingredients is short so each item should be the best you can get. Really true. I always toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet (careful, they burn quickly). Also, I use a 50/50 combo of parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino romano. Put the basil leaves (be sure they’re dry), the garlic, the cheeses and the toasted pine nuts into the food processor bowl. Turn it on and drizzle in the EVOO until it becomes a paste. So easy, so fragrant…a taste of summer.
Okay jvsmom, totally unfair. Wait to post something like this until we are home from work. Now I am starving, my stomach is growling, I have nothing to eat here and can’t leave for an hour. I think pizza with pesto for dinner it is! [:D]
Pesto can be expensive at the supermarket, and once you’ve made your own, you’ll never buy it at the store again, and you’ll kick yourself for ever doing so (that’s what I did anyway) because it’s so easy and so much better homemade.
One of my favorite things to do with pesto is make a pizza using pesto instead of tomato sauce. Pesto, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes. And onions, if you like. Mmmmm-mmmm.
It’s also good tossed with pasta and vegetables. Or on bread. Or added to mashed potatoes for something a little different.
Oh, the possibilities never end . . .
I haven’t done it in several years, but I used to keep basil growing all winter long under a gro-light.
I think I’ve posted this before, but here goes again. In addition to the Basil pesto, I’ve made it with Flat Leaf Parsley (Italian),or spinach, or broccoli, Using the same recipe as for Basil just substituting. Also, with the spinach, I’ve used walnuts. Have both toasted and not toasted the Pine Nuts. Have used only Parmesan Reggiano cheese but the Pecorino would work also.
Pesto is something that is fun to experiment with; try using sun dried tomatoes instead of herbs, or the sun dried tomatoes with a bit of herb added (your choice of herb). Just had another thought. Wonder if celery leaves would make a good pesto? Think I’ll try that soon.
Yep, that’s pesto, pretty much as I remember making it. I think that the recipe I used called for Parmesan rather than Romano. May or may not have toasted the pine nuts (helps bring out the flavor). And what seemed like a ton of oil. (Even without freezing, pesto will keep a week or more covered with a skim of oil.)
It all purees down to nothing, but it’s a super-concentrated flavor so a little goes the distance. And since it’s such a short list of ingredients, the better your ingredients, the better the product, but your starting off with a quality product, your own basil straight from the garden.
Well, mbrookes, now I think you’ve gone and done it. You will now get every pesto recipe in the world and will get a headache trying to decide which one to try. Don’t worry, they are all good. Here’s mine:
2 cups basil leaves (cut off stems as they can be bitter)tightly packed
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
6 garlic cloves (more or less depending on your taste) peeled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Throw into food processor or blender and make a paste. Add more oil if not wet enough. If you add a half cup of pitted italian black olives, it’s awesome as well. Can freeze for a century or two. I stick mine in microwave for a minute to thaw the top layer, scrape that off to use on pizza or with pasta then refreeze the rest. No one’s died (yet). Good luck. Fred
Thank you! Thank you! All sounds great. Now if I only had a good pesto recipe. (I’ve looked at some, but since I’ve never even tasted pesto, I don’t know what would be good) I knew y’all would have the answers I needed.
I know this may be "off topic" but at least it has to do with herbs. My Rosemary plants (two of them) are growing like weeds this summer so along the same line as with the Basil, I think I’ll bring them inside this Fall and try to keep them going all winter long. That would be wonderful as I love fresh Rosemary almost as much as I love fresh Basil.
These are two lovely little bushes right now and I feel that with the right location and care, they should live over winter. Keeping my fingers crossed. Would love to hear if anyone has had success doing this.
We dry basil, alway freeze it like V960 said.
We also take new, baby plants at the end of summer
and put them in small planter and grow them inside
over the winter. I’ve also grown cherry tomatoes
inside over the winter.
Mario Batali (Food Network) had a lasagna made with a bechamel sauce and two kinds of pestos (a basil and a black olive/basil one)that was fabulous with all olives, cheeses and oil being from Liguria. If you make it with a homemade pasta so you could get the noodles really thin, you got about seven layers. It was a show done years ago so no link available but if anyone wants the recipe (it’s too long to stick in a reply), drop me an email and I’ll send it to you (or if it’s allowed I’ll post it in a new thread with appropriate attribution) Fred
Pesto frozen in ice cub trays.
added to tomatoes to be canned.
Layed w/ fresh tomatoes and fresh mozz cheese.
Pesto is a great addition to vegetable soups (e.g., Minestrone). Also, make a pesto lasagna with ricotta and sauteed spinach. They do stuff like this a lot in Liguria, the Italian province that’s the home of pesto. There, pesto is often served with pasta, green beans and boiled potatoes–all tossed together. Delicious.
I think basil is one of those things you can’t have too much of. Unlike zucchini squash, which when you have brought a wheelbarrow full around to the neighbors for the fourth time in a summer, tends to cause your popularity ratings to drop, basil is usually very welcome. The ubiquitous basil, fresh tomato and mozzarrella salad with EVO and balsamic vinegar is great this time of year. Pesto is good in everything from pizza crust (topped with shrimp and scallops and goat cheese) to mashed potatoes to scrambled eggs and it keeps forever. I never thought about growing it in winter but sounds like a terrific idea. Fred
We did too much basil many years ago in our first urban garden (in Astoria, NYC!). The pesto route is a good one. It freezes well. A suggestion I used at the time was to make pesto ice cubes in a plastic tray, then keep the frozen cubes in a ziplock. That way you have 1-2 tablespoon units of sauce to use at will. All the pine nuts can set you back, but you can usually find them cheaper in ethnic markets.
I’d also suggest looking for some alternate pesto recipes (I did one that included spinach and some different herbs along with basil) so you have some variety. And look for different ways to use it, like brushed on grilled chicken or roast pork.
A jar of good pesto can make a nice gift, too.
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