Our growing season is short here in Montana, but a lot seems to happen in mid-summer. I returned from a week away to a joyful tangle of tomato stems and veritable bushes of basil, eggplant, and hot peppers. One thing I’ve learned: keep pinching the leaves off your basil plants, otherwise they’ll go to flower and that is the end for basil. (And we surely don’t want that, it’s only August!)
Speaking of basil, let’s make some pesto. You can use it for pasta of course, or as a spread (focaccia sandwiches with fresh mozzarella and tomato), dip, or dollop (try it on a fried eggs). To keep extra pesto, layer olive oil on top to seal out the air and keep it refrigerated. Thanks to Mary Risley of the former Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco (and my friend KC) for the original recipe.
- 2 cups basil leaves packed
- 2 cloves garlic minced and mashed with 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/4 cup pepitas or pine nuts or walnuts toasted
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pack basil leaves in food processor. Add the minced and mashed garlic, grated Parm, pepitas or pine nuts, and drizzle the olive oil over the top. Process to a purée, leaving it rough or go longer for more smooth texture, your choice. Taste and sprinkle with additional salt if you wish, and a few grinds of black pepper.
Use immediately or pack into a glass container, add a layer of olive oil on top, and keep refrigerated. It should keep its vibrant color and delicious taste for about a week.
Recipe Notes / Tips
- use a tasty extra virgin olive oil for best results
- substitute any grana-type hard cheese for the Parmigiano-Reggiano