Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Basil For Days (And 3 Pesto Recipes!)


Summer may be winding down, but no one has told my basil that. I don't know about you guys, but I've got it coming out of my ears! If there's one crop in my garden that never fails to produce, it's that large-leafed Italian favorite, basil. I normally plant plenty of it in my herb garden, but this year I went a bit further. I read that it's a great companion plant for tomatoes, keeping hornworms away and infusing the tomatoes with even greater sweetness. And I can confirm, I've had little problem with hornworms this year. In fact, since the basil has exploded and grown, I haven't see a single hornworm. I'll be pairing these two together from here on out!



This has been the first year I've had any other variety of basil that your standard large-leaf Genovese. In addition to the Genovese, I also grew Minette (a small, compact bush basil perfect for when you need tiny leaves that you don't have to chop), Purple, and Cinnamon. The Minette tastes exactly like Genovese. The Purple and Cinnamon also smell and taste similar to the Genovese, but a little bit different. The Purple smells and tastes a bit spicer, while the Cinnamon has a licorice-like quality. I thought a fabulous use of all this basil would be a couple of different pestos!


I decided to make 3 pestos- your standard, regular pesto, a Purple pesto, and a Cinnamon pesto. I chose different nuts for all 3 and made sure all the nuts were thoroughly toasted. Once my nuts were done, I headed out to harvest some basil.


The Cinnamon pesto was up first. Here's a Cinnamon basil plant (above). You'll notice the stems are purple, instead of green.


They also grow little purple flowers, instead of the standard green flowers like Genovese basil.


I decided to mix Cinnamon basil with toasted pecans for its pesto. Here's the recipe:

Ingredients (makes 8 ounces):

4 ounces Cinnamon basil leaves
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

1. Combine basil through kosher salt in a food processor. Pulse until well chopped.
2. Through the shoot and with the motor running, begin adding olive oil. Add olive oil until mixture is thick and creamy. Season to taste. Use immediately, or store for up to 1 week in an airtight container. Simply scape off browned layer off top if using the pesto as leftovers.



You'll notice this pesto is a dark green, instead of a bright, vibrant green that you get from standard basil. With the toasted pecans and the licorice-y flavor, this is not your typical pesto. I can just imagine this in a pasta 😍😍😍

As for why I grew Cinnamon basil, well, you can thank my local squirrels for that. The Cinnamon basil ended up at the top of my herb garden, where the oregano usually goes. I was doing really well with my oregano seedlings this year. That's saying a lot, because if you've ever grown oregano from seed, it takes forever. So when an ornery squirrel dug up my seedlings, I was at a loss. It was too late to start over due to how long it takes from seed. I ended up at my local nursery looking for oregano starts. This was after May 15th, so I was kind of out of luck with that one. They did have several types of basil starts though, so I took them all and the Cinnamon ended up where the oregano usually goes. 


Now for the lovely purple pesto-


The Purple basil plants don't look anything like basil!  For the most part.


What gives the purple plant away as basil is the smell. It smells very much like basil, just a bit spicier. I planted the purple in the actual tomato bed.


And the older it gets, the greener it gets. Cool, huh?


I chose toasted almonds to go with the purple. Here's the recipe for Purple Pesto:

Ingredients (makes 8 ounces):

4 ounces purple basil
1/4 cup almonds, toasted
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

1. Combine basil through kosher salt in a food processor. Pulse until well chopped.
2. Through the shoot and with the motor running, begin adding olive oil. Add olive oil until mixture is thick and creamy. Season to taste. Use immediately, or store for up to 1 week in an airtight container. Simply scape off browned layer off top if using the pesto as leftovers.



Look at the dark purple color! How cool is that? 


I actually had the Purple Pesto for dinner that night. I sautéed some cherry and pear tomatoes in a little garlic and olive oil, before tossing them with some cooked pasta and about 1/3-1/2 cup of pesto. Top with some parmesan cheese, some toasted pine nuts, and some more chopped basil. Twas a good one!


And then, of course, I've got plenty of large-leaf Genovese basil. Also, directly behind the Genovese basil, you can kind of see one of my Minette's.


Classic Pesto is a classic for a reason. So. Darn. Good! Here's my link for regular Homemade Pesto.


Ah, theres's that vibrant green color we all associate with Pesto. Or Split Pea Soup 😂


How was your basil harvest this year? I'd say I've got at least a dozen more pesto's to make with the amount of basil still in the garden. Viva la basil!

Needless to say, I'll be growing a few varieties of  basil again next year. Loved it ❤️

Happy Wednesday friends!

8 comments:

  1. I wish I lived near you so I could "borrow a cup of basil" ;) My basil is just now starting to take off in it's pot and I am hoping that it will grow double time so I can use some fresh and also dry some.

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    1. Oh, I wish you lived near here so I could give you some! 😜

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  2. They're all so pretty! I only have Genovese this year. I also had Thai basil last year. MMM! My poor herb garden has been neglected this year. I'm already making resolutions to do better next year!

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    1. I might try the Thai next year, because that's one I haven't tried yet 😀

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  3. Those recipes sound great and your photos are very nice! The only herbs I have right now are mint, rosemary, bay & lemon grass.

    Enjoy your day ~ FlowerLady

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    1. Oooh, lemongrass! I really should grow it, because I can't find it anywhere around here!

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  4. I am sooo jealous! We did not grow basil. I really need to amp up the herb portion of the garden next year. I would love some of the Purple Basil Pesto!
    Hope the oregano works out better next year :)

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    1. Me too! I did grow marjoram this year though, and I was surprised of the similarities between that and oregano. They smell awfully similar. I've actually been using the marjoram like oregano. Great substitute! :-)

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