The cold came quick this year. Typically I have until the end of the month to get all my herbs and late summer veggies harvested but that didn't happen this year. I'm going to loose about 2 pecks of tomatoes. That is sad my friends, for we are big tomato lovers here. I have some carrots and lettuce that will be fine for another month so it's not all bad. I guess I could do some fried green tomatoes but not being a native Southerner I'm not sure which is the best way to make them. Ahh the internets are calling me for the recipe.
Sine I put it off collecting the basil as long as I could I finally had to go out there and get it. I grew several basil plants which were so happy that they were nearly shrubs when I harvested them on Sunday. With a laundry basket and clippers I went to work in the very chilly blustery garden. The basket was overflowing with basil which usually makes me happy but for some reason it overwhelmed me a little.
Really, think about it. A laundry basket full of basil. Do you have any idea how much work that is to clean? I sure found out and have done myself a favor and made a very good mental reminder in my silly head about this process. Do not leave the harvesting of 6 basil shrubs for a one day project. It's best to do it a little at a time beginning early in the season so as to not leave such madness to consume your weekend. With a mountain of basil taking over my kitchen table I began my tedious project. I filled the sink with water and set to the task of plucking leaves off the branches. One by one, carefully checking them for bugs and other faults, I made my way through that basket. I washed the leaves in 3 large batches. I used baking soda to help clean the leaves and then rinsed each batch twice (and inspecting them further) before sending them through the salad spinner. I allowed the spun leaves to dry on towels the counter to get as dry as possible. Several hours later the basil leaves were dry and ready to be made into pesto.
The making pesto part is super easy compared to the prepping the leaves part. I use a food processor to make pesto which really does save time. Batch after batch was made and put into jars and ice cube trays. I like to put pesto in ice cube trays and freeze them for later. Sometimes I only want a teeny bit of pesto for a quick lunch or just to add to a jar of crappy sauce. It's amazing how just a tablespoon of pesto can liven up a cheap jar of sauce. Try and see for yourself. I put about half of my pesto in ice cube form. It will last about a year living in doubled freezer bags in our chest freezer. The other half has been placed in small jelly jars and will be put up. In total I was able to make a quart and a half of pesto. I still have 2 gallon sized plastic bags of basil yet to go. So, yeah, there's a lot of pesto here. Not to mention another small basil plant still in the garden.
2-3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
Place the garlic and pine nuts into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the basil and olive oil. Pulse until the mixture is smooth then add the Parmesan. Pulse a few more times to incorporate the cheese. Note: Adding 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste makes a great tomato-basil pesto perfect for pizza or pasta.
Serve immediately over warm pasta. Pesto can be stored in a jar with a tight fitting lid for 5 days. Makes about 1 cup. Freeze what you can't use you'll be glad you did.