One of my latest and most relaxing hobbies is gardening and we've planted a medium-sized herb garden in our backyard. We planted: Basil, Oregano, Sage, Chives, Italian Parsley, Rosemary, and San Marzano Tomatoes & 2 bell pepper plants. We also have three citruses trees of Valencia Oranges, Meyer lemons and dwarf limes. Eric recently added drip irrigation system to our wonderful little garden to ensure the vitality and growth of my precious garden. I check out my garden everyday and watch the bountiful fresh herbs growing away. I recently learned from Sidewalk Shoes to harvest your basil to ensure a plentiful and bountiful batch. It will give you at least 3 good batches if you harvest it correctly.
Right now, Basil is thriving in my herb garden and I've finally harvested some basil and made a batch of pesto. I love the distinctive aroma - it's very earthy and sometimes smells like a cross of mint and anise - it's definitely unique. The wonderful thing about herbs is the more you pick them, the more they grow! I've kinda neglected the "usage" of fresh herbs and need to shift our summer menus using fresh garden ingredients. So use your basil often and they’ll keep producing. If you leave them alone, they'll start producing those beautiful white flowers- which is the opposite of what you want to happen - so clip those monsters off! Make your batch of homemade pesto today. ;-)
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to the Basics
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
9 garlic cloves
5 cups of basil leaves, packed
1 1/4 cups of olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Gouda cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven for 350 degrees. Add the walnuts and pine nuts to a jelly sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes. Set aside and cool.
In a food processor, mix the walnuts, pine nuts and garlic to a paste. Add the basil leaves, salt and pepper and mix well.
Slowly add the olive oil with the food processor on. Blend until pesto is almost at a puree. Add the Parmesan cheese and mix for another minute. Make sure the pesto is mixed well and scrape down the sides if needed.
Transfer the pesto into a container and store in fridge or freezer. If storing in freezer, add a small drizzle of olive oil with a plastic wrap placed directly on top of the pesto. Let no air touch the pesto or it will turn brown. Pesto freezes well, so stock up for winter!
Yield: 4 cups