Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Basil Pesto - Revisiting a Fave

Well, our early spring and lots of rain here in north Texas has meant that my basil plants are beyond thriving. So as I prepare to make another batch of basil pesto, I thought I'd revisit my original post from 2012.

* * *
Mindy here, and my basil plant has been growing like crazy. So I asked myself, "What are you going to do with all that basil?" I mean, I can't eat bruschetta every day.

Or can I?


No, I can't. Too much bread.

So I'm at the grocery the other day, reaching for a jar of pesto when it hit me. I could make my own pesto.

I came home and harvested a good bunch of the leaves. I needed 2 "packed" cups. I soaked them in water for a few minutes to kill anything that might have decided to take up residence on the plant. Flash flood. They never knew what hit them.

Then I strained and rinsed a couple more times before throwing them into my salad spinner to eek out all the water. This worked wonderfully, I might add.

Now for the rest of the ingredients.

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (love these things)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper
Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor. Doesn't this look pretty?

Pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I wish you could smell this.

Now if I were using this right away, I'd add the rest of the oil and 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesean cheese. But since this is for later, I'll put it into an air-tight container, drizzle the remaining oil over the top and put it in the freezer. It'll keep for up to three months. Great for those quickie meals. When I'm ready to use it, I simply thaw, stir in the freshly grated cheese, and toss with some warm pasta. Maybe top with some chicken breast or shrimp, tomatoes, a few capers....

Easy peasy.

And good for you, too.

* * *

I do love being able to pick things from my backyard, however, I tend to be a bit of a fair-weathered gardener. Translation, I hate weeding in the heat. Of course, living in the burbs, there isn't a lot of room for a real garden. I used to think that, once we moved to the ranch, I'd resurrect my FIL's garden and grow all that neat stuff like Ruthy shares, but I don't know. I mean, it's not like living rural is suddenly going to turn me into a master gardener. It's one of those things you need to have a passion for. Although, I am passionate about food.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

So how does your garden grow? What's your favorite herb/vegetable?


  1. I would kill someone if I had to week and monkey around in your heat. There would be jail time served, no lie.

    So do you have two growing seasons there? Like first crop, second crop?

    If you started a veggie garden in March to harvest in June... and then another one in August to harvest in October... does that work at the ranch?

    Or would it be just one early garden? Start in early April, harvest in July, and stay out of the heat....

    This looks marvelous, and I remember you doing this and I've NEVER DONE IT. I'm so sorry, call me slacker Ruthy.

    But I should because I'm editing or researching every night right now, and something quick out of the freezer is clutch.

    Although existing on tuna fish isn't a BAD THING. :)

    1. I know there are at least two growing seasons. I'll have to get with my friend Cheryl, a rancher's wife, to find out what to plant when. She plants everything from onions and peppers to cauliflower and cabbage, tomatoes, peppers... All at different times of the year. As I recall, potatoes and onions are planted in October and harvested in the spring. Obviously I have much to learn.

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way about gardening in the heat. Although I draw the line at killing. Though equipped with a garden hoe...

  2. I'm with Ruthy. The heat PLUS the humidity of east Texas makes me homicidal. Thank you, Mr. Carrier, for inventing air conditioning!

    I love pesto. Love it. But my gardening has gone away with the rest of my time.

    It's moving that does it, I think. It always takes me a few years to figure out the new climate - humid/arid, clay soil/sandy soil, two growing seasons/one growing season - and I just haven't had the time to put into doing that since we moved to the Black Hills.

    But I can do small things, one at a time. The rhubarb is looking good this spring, and the raspberries. We have a cherry tree that's doing well, too. Maybe this year I'll add a couple basil plants! They do well in containers. :)

    Thanks for the idea, Mindy!

    1. Yes, I love that basil especially does so well in containers, Jan. That way I have it at the ready for bruschetta, caprese salad and I can freeze the pesto to have it all winter. Still wishing I could grow rhubarb, but it just doesn't like the heat.

      The humidity. Ugh. We're most of a coastal climate at the ranch, so there will be plenty of humidity. You might find I've melted into a puddle one day. :P

  3. I'm with everyone else re heat and humidity and weeding. When it gets hot here I do garden work in the early morning.

    We've had really wonky weather so I've just started getting into the garden now. I'm feeling quite overwhelmed because my whole front is perennial beds and the side yard where I grow my veggies is over run with grass. I can only work for short periods in the garden...much less than last year. Hoping I can build up again. And drat those dandelions...they are blossoming with a vengeance. Have to get them all before they fluff out and spread their weedy goodness all over the place.

    Victoria Day weekend -- this one coming up -- is the traditional planting time up here. We're supposed to be guaranteed no frost. Mind you, it went down to 0 last night. I'm pretty sure I won't get everything in...or even ready to go in. Gah!

    1. Let's see, your 0 is our 32 degrees. Freezing any way you slice it and most plants don't like that.

      The downside to Texas, Kav, is that mornings, while cooler than the afternoons, can still be pretty toasty. Overnight temps often don't fall below 80. Thank God for air conditioning.

      Praying your energy level will increase so you can show those gardens who's boss. :)

  4. I love this! Thanks for sharing again. I wish my basil would grow so well.

    1. Missy, I use the Miracle Grow potting soil and that makes a huge difference.

  5. I love basil and yours looks beautiful. Can't garden. Hubby won't let me near any of our plants. I tend to kill them. Not sure why. LOL I think I over water. Or under water. Who knows?

    1. Yeah, water is kind of a key factor, isn't it Sandra? This is actually my second batch of basil. My first batch died before I planted them in the pots because I forgot to water them. I learned my lesson and planted these right away, then I not only used Miracle Grow potting soil, I used the moisture retaining no one. Figured I'd take all the help I could get. :P

  6. I always want to make pesto, Mindy. I've seen some kale walnut recipes for pesto too. Maybe we should have a pesto-off! (Like a bakeoff but green ;) )

    1. Works for me, Mary Cate. I hope there's some garlic in with the kale and walnuts, though.

  7. OH MY GOSH!! SO SORRY TO MISS THIS ONE. I was actually...um..writing all day and until three am.

    I love homemade Pesto. Thank you for this. I kiss your ring.

    1. And I hug your neck, Tina. ;) Now get some sleep.