Basil Pesto

There is little that can compare with the taste sensation of fresh crusty bread topped with a generous spreading of pesto.

I think I can smell autumn in the air.  I know it’s still summer and we’ll get some scorching hot days, but the evenings are drawing in just a little, and there’s a refreshing nip in the air in the morning.  In my opinion, this is the best time of year.  Today is typically clear and bright, brilliant sunshine and the ocean is sparkling like a million diamonds and the trees and grass look green and lush due to the recent rains.  The air is filled with the sound of baby green rosellas, protesting at their mothers’ encouragment for them to fend for themselves.

Maybe some of the local wildlife is feeling the impending cooler weather as well.  Yesterday my husband Robert discovered a snake in the hothouse.  Of course the snake was just as startled as Robert and just quietly slithered off into the bush for a less populated place.  Robert said it was a copperhead, a magnificent creature – I’m sure it was, but makes me a little insecure about going into the hothouse in case it has decided to come back and take exception to my intrusion.

When I finally overcame my nerves, all was well.  Inside the late planted heirloom tomatoes are growing like wildfire and the abundant basil plants are so vigorous that they are wanting to flower.  We have a difference of opinion here, as once the plant flowers the flavour of the leaves changes, and not for the better I think – it becomes aniseed-like, so I nip flower buds off as they are trying to form.   I grow so much basil solely for the purpose of making pesto.  I adore it, and it can be made in larger quantities and then frozen for later use.  I do use some in salads and on pizzas also, but sparingly.

Using a food processor it is simplicity itself to make, as the following recipe shows.  Sometimes I add a small amount of my home-made mustard, about half to one teaspoon for an extra dimension, but it is by no means necessary.  You can of course substitute a little Dijon or whole grain mustard for the home-made variety.

Food Processor Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves

½ cup pine nuts

2 gloves garlic, peeled

½ cup light olive oil

½ cup shaved or shredded parmesan

¼ to ½ teaspoon salt

Place the basil leaves, pine nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, gradually add the oil in a thin stream, then add the parmesan and salt and process briefly.  Add extra salt and pepper if needed.