In May, I wrote about growing your own herb garden or planter, and since then a few months has passed. I thought that I would give you a few useful tips about one particular herb, which seems to be everyone’s favorite. Basil.
Out of all of my herbs, basil always seems to grow in abundance. So I thought you might like a few simple recipes. Homemade pesto seems to stretch your basil the furthest, although it is always lovely to freshly chop the basil and sprinkle it on top of a dish.
It’s not just great on pasta, here are more ways to punch up your dinner.
Roasted Fish: Spread pesto over fillets of halibut, salmon or trout. Roast on baking sheet in centre of preheated 400f oven until a knife tip inserted into the thickest part of the fish and held for 10 seconds comes out warm, 10 to 15 minutes.
Feta Spread: Whirl 200g of feta with ¼ cup of pesto in a food processor. Use as sandwich spread. Or for an easy appetizer, spread over baguette slices and bake on a baking sheet in the centre of preheated 400F oven until spread is warm and bread is toasted. 4 to 6 minutes. Top with prosciutto, sliced tomatoes or spicy shrimp.
Recipe for Pesto
4 cups basil leaves, packed
½ cup cheese grated, parmesan or romano
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or almonds
3 med garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Drop 3 garlic cloves through the spout of a food processor or blender while it’s running. Then add basil, pine nuts, cheese, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. With motor still running, gradually add oil stopping to scrape down the sides with spatula, until everything is well blended, and a good consistency.
I usually put a couple of heaping tablespoons into individual small sandwich bags, then into a larger freezer bag so that when I want pesto I can just pull out one small bag at a time. This will do well in your freezer for up to three months. Around August, September you can usually buy very large bunches from small grocery stores along Queen Street East, which would make a huge container of pesto to freeze for the winter.
If you are thinking of bringing your herbs inside at the end of the summer, remember they have to be placed on a sunny windowsill. And try not to over-water, as the drainage will be different from sitting outside on your deck or garden. Bring them inside before there is any sign of frost and give them time to acclimatize to indoors conditions.
Enjoy the pesto made from your very own garden, just be a little adventurous and you’ll be surprised what dishes you can come up with.
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