The basil in our backyard is growing well, flourishing at a rate faster than we can consume. I’ve tried incorporating the herb into several of our meals, cutting the top few inches of the stalks whenever I need them but there are still SO much! I love having fresh herbs at home – it makes such a difference to the taste of even basic dishes like spaghetti Bolognese, giving it just that extra oomph in flavour.
Thriving basil from our backyard
So what to do with all this basil? One of the easiest way to use a good chunk of them is to make basil pesto, and I’ve found just the perfect recipe from Taste.com.au – it’s super easy and surprisingly for someone who doesn’t like basil pesto very much, Jono enjoys this version. Definitely adding it to my recipe collection!
Basil Pesto (recipe by Michelle Southan)
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 5 min
45g (¼ cup) pine nuts
1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves
2 small garlic cloves, halved
60g (¾ cup) shredded parmesan
5 tbs olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Spread the pine nuts over a baking tray. Bake in oven for 5 minutes or until toasted. Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
2. Place the pine nuts, basil, garlic and parmesan in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. With the motor running, gradually add the oil in a thin steady stream until well combined.
To freeze half (for up to 4 months): Transfer half the pesto to a small airtight container and smooth the surface. Drizzle with olive oil to cover. Label, date and freeze. To thaw: Place in the fridge for 3-4 hours or until thawed. Stir to combine.
Ingredients for making basil pesto - basil leaves, grated parmesan cheese, garlic, toasted pine nuts and olive oil
Homemade basil pesto
You can use almond or cashew nuts in replacement of pine nuts - cheaper in cost but still tastes great. You can also replace the basil with other herbs such as flat-leaved parsley for a less traditional but still gourmet pesto. Use the pesto in pasta, as an accompaniment with meats, or my personal favourite, as a dip/spread with crackers or freshly baked bread. Enjoy!