Basil pesto

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Well, we were in denial, but we finally did it, we cleaned out our garden. We were holding on to the hope that the weather would suddenly get warm again like in previous years on Thanksgiving (last year we were in shorts at the fair). It hasn’t, and today, I sent my kids off to school with winter coats, hats and mittens.

Pulling out the tomatoes and cleaning up the herbs in our garden is always bittersweet. It’s nice to have one last bounty from the garden, but it’s also the last we’re going to grow for the year. I walked away with a good bunch of flat-leaf parsley, a small bowl of raspberries and another of cherry tomatoes, more sage, mint and chives than I know what to do with and a small amount of rosemary, which I am drying as we speak. I also had a huge basil plant (my third for this year, two others perished in our absence) which had a lot of hearty leaves left over. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to use it all fresh, so I decided to try making pesto. I love pesto. I put it on my pizza (instead of tomato sauce), in my pasta and in savoury palmiers.

I knew that pesto had a few key things: basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. But in terms of amounts, I wasn’t sure. My only limitation was that I had about 2 handfuls of basil. I put it with the garlic (1 clove*) in my food processor and pulsed until it was completely chopped. While this was happening, I lightly toasted the pine nuts (about one generous handful). I added the pine nuts (still no olive oil) and then made sure they were nicely chopped up. Then, I took all the ingredients from the food processor, put them in a bowl, added the finely grated cheese (about 1 cup) and then added olive oil until it was a consistency I was happy with. I tried it right away and I tried it about an hour later and once it had a chance to meld together, the flavour was amazing. I had a jar we brought back with us from Paris, and I put my homemade pesto in it and am keeping it in the fridge for whenever my dinner needs a little pesto-kick!

*Next time I’ll probably only use half a garlic clove (because it is quite strong when fresh) but otherwise, I was quite happy with the results (especially when you look at the ingredients of some of the store-bought versions, my old one had potato in it along with some other strange things). However you decide to make the most of your home grown goods, there’s no doubt that doing it yourself is always best.

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