Sunday, June 01, 2008


I absolutely, positively love basil. And why not? Basil grows when it is hot, is a companion plant to just about any other plant, and it provides the base for one of my most favorite dishes - pesto.

In fact, we had pesto last night. I was tired from hoeing, weeding (I missed that one piece of grass in the basil), cutting and hauling cane for beanpoles, and sticking a few beans - not anywhere close to all. I needed something quick, low heat producing, and indulgent.

Noticing earlier that my basil needed nipping, I decided pesto was the answer. So, we threw two chickens, flavored with a bit of olive oil, salt, garlic, and a touch of lemon, on the grill, and I started harvesting basil. If I hadn't been so tired, I would have hand chopped every single garlic clove and basil leaf, but alas I tossed everything except the oil and cheese in the food processor and pulsed it a few times. I am usually snooty about things like this, but sometimes you just have to take the easy way. I did grate the Parmesan by hand before I threw it in the food processor with the olive oil and gave it a few more whirs.

Here is a recipe. I know not from where it came, but I do know that it is very flexible.

About 2 cups basil
About 1/4 pine nuts (I've used pecans in a tight, but will never use walnuts though some people like it that way)
Two or three cloves or garlic
Sea salt to taste, but also to help with the chopping of the garlic
Ground pepper to taste
A mound of grated Parmesan, about 1 cup
Then, enough great extra virgin olive oil to make it smooth and somewhat emulsified (maybe 3/4 cup).

A few of those recipe caveats: Quality matters here, use great olive oil and if you have a green can in the fridge, leave it there.

Chop the basil, pine nuts, and garlic together with the salt and pepper. Add the cheese. Then add the olive oil in a stream until it looks right. Serve over pasta - warm or room temperature.

Sit back and wait for the Wows, Ohs, and Ahhhs.


Melora said...

Ooooh! That sounds scrumptious! I hope my basil grows well so I can try your recipe!

ZILLA said...

I wish I could tell you the last name of my BLP. Let's see ... it's almost the same name as the illegitimate son of a notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant girl, Caterina, from near Florence, except the last letter isn't "o," it's "i." She's Norwegian by birth, but her husband always said she's "Italian by injection."

Her pesto is to die for. She makes it in the Cuisinart.

I have a Cuisinart, but I buy my pesto at the family owned Italian market & deli downtown :-)

Good for you for managing any kind of meal, let alone a delicious home-prepared one, during such a busy season!

JoVE said...

Actually, smearing it on the chicken before you throw it on the bbq is also nice.

Wisteria said...

I would purchase, if we had any Italian markets or delis in town.

That does sound good, but the pesto would need to be ready before the chicken went on the grill.

m~ said...

Yum, I'm going to have to go out and pick some of our basil for dinner, that's for the great idea, if only you cook it for me.