Monday, July 13, 2009
Basic Basil Pesto
My husband and I bought the house we now live in about 3 years ago. It had most everything we wanted in a house, and a few things we didn’t. We loved the deck, the wood floors, the fact that nothing was caving in, or in need of major repair. The fact that it has only one bathroom, a tiny kitchen, and a very wet basement were definitely not its greatest assets. One of the major selling points was the huge backyard, full of both sun and shade. I imagined the garden of my youth: huge rows of cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, a big berry patch, asparagus and potatoes. What I found, as the snow melted and the spring rains ensued, was that our backyard is the low spot in the neighborhood, and that the suns shines brightest near the back of our house - the kid’s favorite play areas. So as not to compete with the rain, or the kids, we had to come up with some creative garden design.
We decided to expand the perimeter beds, and make them mixed vegetable and perennial gardens. This spring, for one frantic week as the planting dates slowly started passing by, I urged (or possibly even insisted) that my husband help me get building materials and dirt for a raised bed. The result was worth it (to me at least). We literally have tomatoes competing with zucchini to take over the bed while peppers, tomatoes and marigolds, which grow with less fervor, cling to the few sunny spots left at the front edge of the bed.
Also lining the front of that bed, and various other plots around the garden, is basil. Harvesting the bold, green leaves truly marks summer for me. The first batch of pesto creates such a decadent feeling, a sense of warmth and wholeness. The smooth texture provided by the oil and nuts, along with the rich, deep flavor of the basil and the bite of garlic (which I grew for the first time this year) is pure heaven to me.
I made a batch of pesto today, and realized that my first post on this blog was Pesto Pizza. Funny how time passes, but we continue in circles, going back to the same places, and foods that we have always enjoyed. This time around something joyful went into the pesto. I think it’s the realization that I have started feeding my family from our own land (or small garden at any rate). We are becoming connected to our place; we are seeing, embracing and enjoying the change of seasons in a way that we haven’t before. This is not the garden of my youth, but it embraces the knowledge that I gained as a youngster helping in my parent’s garden. It is the garden of my children’s youth, however, and that is something that I feel good about. It is true what they say – children love to eat vegetables that they help plant and grow, and tonight we’re eating pesto.
Basic Basil Pesto
8 cups loose packed basil leaves – do not wash!
4-5 garlic cloves
½- ¾ cup olive oil
1 cup pine nuts, toasted
6-8 oz parmesan cheese
Put garlic in food processor and chop. Add basil until smooth. Add oil, more to taste if desired, and remaining ingredients. Adjust ingredients to suit your own palate. Eat.