Thursday, August 27, 2009

Late Summer Garden: Basil Pesto

Sweet baby girl picking basil from the garden.

The end of summer is near. Well, the kids are all back in school but the weather hasn't changed much. Nevertheless, all the summer gardening has come to fruition, the tomatos are delicious and the watermelons are growing. Or maybe you just threw some basil in a pot and called it quits when the temperature soared to the 100's in JUNE! Either way, it's time to use some of the leaves from those giant basil plants that we keep pruning before they go to seed and turn bitter. So here is your August reminder...pick that basil... and if you are wondering what to do with it, here are a few ideas.

Consider tomato basil soup, the recipe is coming soon, though I realize this little gem has been cirulating for some time. The kids love it with a small salad or fresh veggies and sourdough bread. Think "La Madeleine". Maybe grab a few leaves and tuck them along with some sundried tomatos under the skin of your chicken before you bake it.

Or, make some pesto! We have made this recipe several times in my cooking classes and the kids really like it. Pesto is readily available at the supermarket these days, but I promise, if you make'll appreciate the difference. So, gather all the family together at the table and enjoy this simple but delicious recipe.

Fresh Basil Pesto with Pasta

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

You do need either a food processor or blender to make pesto! First, combine the basil and the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor or blend on high a few seconds in the blender. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor or blender is in motion. Stop to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. It will make about 1 cup of pesto which is enough for a pound of pasta.

Fresh pesto is great on any kind of pasta but bowtie pasta is fun and yummy! So, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain the boiling pasta. Then immediately pour into a bowl and add the pesto while the pasta is still steaming hot. Add a salad and serve to your family and friends for a yummy dinner!

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