Basil Hay Day

Basil in the vegetable garden
Basil in the vegetable garden

Whenever I see a bouquet of basil at the grocery store for $5, I say a little thank-you prayer for my stand of it out back in my veggie garden.

I will always overplant basil. Undoubtedly, some will bite it on that first killing frost, but even then, it is rather like freeze-drying a batch. I just pull the crunchy bits off the stalks and lightly crumble into jars to keep in the pantry.

This year we have the lettuce leaf and Genovese (named after the famous mafia family, I am thinking?) fighting to send up their little flower heads. We are thinking that next year we will go with just the lettuce leaf. It is easier to deal with…maybe a little less spicy tasting.

But for now…it is pesto, pesto, and more pesto. When you have a small field of basil, you start making pesto at every meal. I just leave the food processor on the countertop during this season and rinse off the bowl and parts after each use.

I’ve adapted my own recipe, which might actually be more of a dip to some, but a person can add more olive oil to make it into a sauce. I also use sunflower seeds in place of pricey pine nuts. Here is my recipe (roughly):

1/3 cup sunflower seeds
about 5 big cloves of garlic
1 medium green tomato
Process in food processor on high speed ’til nicely chopped

Throw in a generous handful of basil and process ’til it is incorporated. Sprinkle in about 1/3 grated parmesan and add oil until it all comes together (doesn’t take much oil). Salt and pepper.

This is a lighter, lower calorie and lower fat pesto. As I mentioned, add more oil if you wish.

Sometimes we make pesto-brie bites. Slice off a bit of baguette, put a small piece of brie on and top with a dot of pesto. Put under broiler for about a minutes. Divine.

I love this season!


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