I came home yesterday and I was starving. I had skipped lunch, run around all day, and returned home ready to crumble onto the couch and cuddle with my husband. But there was that irritating stomach rumble (which if not attended to would make me irritated and irritating), so I had to make dinner. Leftovers were slim pickings and I just didn’t have the heart to create a full blown meal… and just then my eyes fell on the lush foliage of my basil plants. Seriously, lush. These two basil plants are hogging all of the light in my Aero Garden, crowding out the mint (usually an invasive little bugger, but in my case, just a puny few leaves in the shadow of the bush of basil), and constantly growing too tall for the device (the top leaves burn on the lights while the lower herbs shiver in the basil shadow). I know, Aero Garden problems are serious first world worries…. Anyway, clearly I was meant to whip up some pesto.
The great thing about pesto is that it comes together in less time than it takes to boil water and cook penne. Also, if you’re having a basil invasion, all of the ingredients are probably on hand in your kitchen. And so it was a 70’s throwback dish kind of night (I have the decade right, don’t I? Wasn’t pesto super popular in the 70’s alongside fondu and funny pants?).
Ingredients (makes about 1 cup pesto)
- 2 loosely packed cups of basil, stems removed (they can taste bitter)
- 1/2 clove garlic (or a whole clove, varies depending on your taste)
- Salt, to taste
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts (or more, I like a bit more– walnuts are a good substitute, too)
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan (optional but encouraged, if you really like cheese, use up to 1/2 a cup)
- Add the basil, garlic, salt, nuts, and half the olive oil to a food processor. Blend. Slowly add the remaining olive oil, keep blending. Done!
Note: Pesto, particularly if you are light on the cheese, will keep well in the fridge for a few days. You can add a bit more olive oil on top if you are keeping it for later (will help the basil stay fresh, don’t blend this oil, just layer it on). Obviously pesto goes well with far more than pasta– try it on chicken, cauliflower, etc.
- Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese.
- Basil is a very good source of copper, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
- Basil is a good source of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.