To me, basil has got to be one of the best herbs on the planet. I just love the intense rich and spicy, peppery flavor of it, with a hint of clove and mint. I keep basil in pots so I can enjoy it year round, and they keep me supplied with fresh basil for salads, pasta, pizzas, salad dressings, breads, sandwiches, etc. You can use it as a dip with hunks of good french bread. My little basil pots are great for every day use, but they don’t ever yield that much at once.
However, I am a VERY lucky girl because my mom and my friend are phenomenal basil growers and they often have more than they can handle! And I just tumbled into a lucky spot this weekend when I went to visit my good friend Sunday night. Her basil was growing like crazy! I cut and cut and cut and we dug a couple of the plants up for a potted basil plant and still you couldn’t even tell we’d taken any.
And whenever I get a lot of basil, I HAVE to make pesto!
Pesto is one of those wonderful flavorful things you can use in so many ways. It’s most traditionally used as a pasta sauce, but I like to use it on pizzas (instead of pizza sauce) and sandwiches. I also like to add some to the ricotta when I’m making lasagna. You can even add it to soup! It freezes well so it’s easy to pull it out whenever you need to add a little garlicky basil flavor to something. I have heard of people freezing it in ice cube trays then just popping out a pesto cube whenever they need pesto. I think that’s a great idea, but I never seem to have room in my freezer for ice cube trays! I do, however, have room for a couple little containers of basil.
This time I added lime juice because my basil-growing friend always puts lime in her pesto and her pesto stays such a bright green color and mine used to turn to an ugly dark green over time. The lime adds a little tang too, which is brilliant, and so beautiful. Look at that color!
- A big bunch of fresh basil leaves, washed, stems removed (I had enough basil leaves to entirely fill my blender even after packing down the leaves a bit)
- 2/3 c. olive oil
- 1/2 c. pinon nuts
- 1 c. freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
- 2 T. tequila
- About 5 cloves garlic (you can adjust more or less depending on how garlicky you like it)
- juice of 1 lime
- Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If it won’t blend well, add a bit of water to get it to blend. Just enough to get the blender to go–you want the pesto to end up a thick paste.
- Freeze whatever you don’t want to use right away in small containers (or an ice cube tray!). A little pesto goes a long way!
This picture is larger than life size … I love the intense green of this pesto!