I love basil. It gives an interesting meaning to summer recipes. At this time of the year I usually make pesto as a means of storing this wonderful herb for longer times. At the end of summer, basil leaves will start to die, thus while leaves are still fresh, invest in some time to make this superb sauce which can be used in so many different dishes. If you do not have your own basil plants, now it is also the right time to buy them from supermarkets or green grocers. Small boxes which are pressed to every centimeter with basil are sold at around 1€ each at this time in Malta. Remember it is best to buy local produce when available.
This is how I love to use this basil pesto:
- Toss it as dressing over salad leaves in any salad. It makes the salad so much more yummy. I toss 1 heaped table spoon of the pesto with my salad leaves and then add the remaining salad ingredients.
- Toss it with pasta! I like to use it with my spiralized zucchini or thinly sliced, boiled cabbage.
- Top it on grilled marrows or aubergines and use as a side dish.
- Use it instead of mayo with boiled potatoes. This is a great side for barbecues.
- Use the surfacing oil in the jar which will be infused with the pesto to fry chicken or meat. Then add the meat to a salad or choice of pasta and add some pesto.
- Use it instead of tomato sauce in pizza. You could add it at the base of the pizza before putting any toppings or otherwise drizzle on top of the baked pizza. Try these aubergine pizzas with basil, colored peppers and feta cheese. Alternatively you can make your own choice of pizza base (I love quinoa flour pizza base) and dress the pizza with mozzarella and pesto. You can add some parma ham and fresh rucola as you take it out of the oven.
- Use it as a spread in breads or wraps. You can also add use it to make garlic bread.
Two of my favorite pesto plates are showed below; pesto zucchini spaghetti and quinoa flour pizza base with mozzarella, pesto, cherry tomatoes and parma ham.
Fresh herbs can also be dried and stored. It is best to suspend them upside down until dry. Then crush them up and store them in a jar.
By the way click here for another great way to store fresh herbs for the winter. Freeze them with olive oil!
- 2 cups basil leaves (best if thick stems are removed)
- 1 cup walnuts
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
- fresh mint or coriander can be added
- Start by processing the cloves of garlic in food processor.
- Then add the walnuts and process until you reach a nut butter consistency. Scrape the sides of the food processor frequently.
- Add the leaves, salt & pepper, and some of the olive oil and blend with food processor. If needed add more olive oil while processing. You should have a pasty even consistency.
- Place in a sterilized jar and top it with an additional layer of olive oil (about 1cm), this will help in preserving it.
- When using the pesto, mix the oil in the surface with the rest of the pesto and take the amount that you require, then top off with layer of olive oil before storing again. Store in the refrigerator.
- Once opened this can stay up to 5 weeks in the fridge or up to 6 months if sealed properly and unopened. It is very important that you have your jars and caps sterilized before storing so you don’t spoil the pesto with any bacteria which may be left inside the cleaned jars.