Garden Fresh Pesto

See that picture up there, the salad and pasta? This is my very favorite type of dinner. It can’t get much healthier than this–for several reasons–but mealtime preparation (after it’s made initially) is quick and very easy.

In my new series GOOD EATS, I present Recipe #2: home made pesto. I give you this one now, because, as you’ll see, there is still time to plant. It’s worth the time, as nothing beats home made pesto.

***GARDEN FRESH PESTO***

For me, with pesto, it is a bit of this and a bit of that. I don’t measure; I simply taste as I go. But, first and foremost, it has to start with the best of the best. (Yes, I was taught not to start a sentence with “But,” however, my third grade teacher is no where to be found, so, it stays. Besides, just saying so practically lets me off the hook. But, whatever…).

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garden fresh basil, 2015

May 2016_basil 2016

 

<<< Lupine. 🙂

 

 

<<<Planted April 7th.

 

 

There is still time!!

 

 

<<<Aren’t they cute?!!?

 

 

May 2016_greenhouse babies (1)
UPDATE: basil, photo taken May 6, 2016
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Meet Gandalf, our rescue cat. He likes to wedge between me and my chair when I type.

OK, back to the pesto. Here are the rest of the ingredients, except the salt and pepper.

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real Parmesan, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, sunflower seeds
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basil, olive oil, sunflower seeds, ground pepper

I begin the process by removing the leaves from the stems. I then rinse the leaves and pat dry with cloth towels.

I pour a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of the food processor. I pack in several layers of leaves. I add a bit more oil and more leaves until the bucket is mostly full. I blend a bit, then add about 1 cup of seeds and about 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan. Again, I never measure; I stop and taste.

IMG_20150718_100150104The amount of oil will vary. When I’ve tried to use less for caloric purposes, I end up adding it anyway when the pesto is blended with the pasta. I found that adding enough oil at this point, about how you’d find it from a grocery store jar (fairly oily), is about perfect.

Some recipes call for salt, but I usually do not add it because I use salted sunflower seeds. I do use freshly ground black pepper at this point, to taste. As for the garlic, some folks saute 2-3 cloves per batch on the stove in butter before adding to the bucket for blending. I do not saute the garlic as I have found the flavor to hold up very well in the freezer throughout the year. Probably doesn’t hurt that I usually use 3-4 cloves instead of 2-3.

Separating the leaves from the stems is by far the most time consuming part of this whole affair; however, again, it is well worth your time. For two batches* of pesto, I usually stuff two paper grocery bags full of leaves/stems from the garden.

When the batch is complete to taste, I spoon roughly 1/2 cup amounts of pesto into a lightly sprayed muffin tin, and fill each cup (depending on how much I have).

May 2015_pestoWhen the tray is full I cover it with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. When frozen, I remove the sections from the tin, place in a gallon sized plastic bag and refreeze.

TO USE: I reheat ~ two sections in a microwave safe bowl along with enough olive oil to make a smooth paste, and blend with cooked pasta. Top with Parmesan and sliced cherry tomatoes.

IMG_20150817_183608667GUIDELINES, per batch, for those who like more concrete directions:

Two grocery bags full of fresh basil leaves/stems, 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil, 3-5 cloves garlic, 1 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup or more freshly grated Parmesan, a couple squirts (doses? How is black pepper measured anyway?) of ground black pepper, a pinch of salt (if needed).

*One batch of freshly made pesto.

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PLEASE let me know if when you try this recipe, and please come back and comment. ENJOY!!!

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