Basil Pesto

I think I saw the largest basil plant that I have ever seen in my life on the weekend.  We were visiting family, at our old residence from last year, and I couldn’t believe my eyes at what has happened in our old herb garden.  Talk about proof of what love and care can do when coupled with the right growing conditions.  The trunk of the main tree would have been at least an inch wide, and the whole bush (and it was definitely a bush) was at least a metre tall!  Thanks to ongoing family love, this little bush that has produced enough pesto to keep 3 families happy and leave plenty over to add to salads without even appearing to make much of a dent!     And so to the  beautiful recipe of pesto, which  is one of my Mum’s and it’s a goodie.  Easy to make, particularly if you have a food processor.  I don’t, so I used my stick mixer, and it still worked out like I imagined, and more importantly like I remembered from my childhood.  Picking through bags of basil sent my senses into a spin of delight and whizzing the ingredients made me starting thinking about all the yummy things I can do with this delish recipe.  I’ve frozen most of it though, and its going to be saved up to redistribute to the families and also used as a last-minute “what on earth am I making for dinner tonight” emergency rations.

  • 1 large bunch fresh basil, approx 100g leaves when stripped from the stem
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted if you like
  • Extra virgin olive oil, around ¼ cup
  • 50 g grated parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Juice half a lemon

Making pesto is not an exact science, your palate should decide the amount of seasoning you use.

Strip the basil leaves from their stems, wash thoroughly and dry well. (I use a salad spinner).

Into the jug of your food processor, place the garlic and pine nuts, pulse until finely chopped.

Add the basil leaves and again, process until finely chopped.

With the motor running, pour the olive oil into the processor in a fine stream until you have added enough to create a whipped cream consistency.

Transfer the basil mixture to a bowl, stir in the cheese, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Depending on the quality of the basil, a little lemon juice can make the difference between pesto that is OK and pesto that is great.

Scrape the pesto into small lidded containers, pour a little olive oil over the surface to protect it from the air then either freeze or refrigerate.

If you’re looking for things to use your pesto in, check out the pizza scone I made using this pesto, the flavour was a superb addition to an old family recipe.

Happy Cooking, Leah

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