Saturday, October 8, 2011

When Life Gives You Basil

I'll just go ahead and rub it in.  Fall in Alabama is both long and delightful.  Warm days, slightly cool nights.  The humidity in the air has vanished.  My fall garden and I are in temperate heaven.  Aside from the impending doom of winter, the only downside I can possibly find in all this weather perfection is that my basil is threatening to bolt.  Stalks are no longer sprouting new growth, and dare I say, leaves are no longer their vibrant selves.  This is a tragic loss for my family, but I refuse to let go without a fight.  There is but one thing to do as summer disappears:  preserve.

Pesto is easy to make and freezes up nicely.  Now, come January, I get to have my basil and eat it, too.  Today, I took my kitchen shears out and gave the overgrown plant a rather aggressive haircut.

Making a batch of pesto takes no chopping, just a quick whirl in the food processor.  Here is an easy to follow recipe:
4 cups Fresh Basil Leaves
1 cup Pine Nuts or Walnuts
1 cup Parmesan Reggiano Cheese (none of that fake stuff)
2/3 cup Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Dump all ingredients into the food processor and mix until combined.  Add more oil if you need to for consistency purposes, and salt and pepper to your liking.  It's not an exact science, so adjust proportions as you see fit.

I've found that snack size ziplock baggies hold just the right amount of pesto for a family sized portion of pasta.  Lay them flat, press out any air, seal, and freeze for up to three months. Enjoy!

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