Summer is my favourite time of year in New Zealand, sunny days, long nights and the opportunity to grow some summer vegetables and herbs.
My favourite things to grow are, sweet corn, tomatoes and courgettes, but when the sunny days start, I know it is time to grow my herbs, parsley, coriander and in particular basil and every year I grow two varieties. The usual run of the mill basil and I also like miniature basil which seem to be slightly sweeter, although that maybe because it is so cute and they grow in little pom poms.
What’s the first thing to come to mind when you think of Basil?.... PESTO!!!
Pesto can have so many variations, instead of basil use parsley, or add some coriander, or spinach. Instead of pine nuts use cashew nuts, if you are dairy free don’t use cheese, still tastes delicious! But for the tried and true here is my basic basil pesto recipe. The quantities don’t have to be measured and if you like adjust to your taste, I love garlic so I add more.
2 cups of fresh basil
½ cup of grated Parmesan (Please use good Parmesan, I don’t want to hear you about you using that yellow dust stuff in the can!)
2 Large cloves for garlic*
¾ cup of good olive oil
¼ cup of toasted pine nuts (cashews, walnuts or any other variant is also fine)
Ground pepper and salt to taste
Take all ingredients and puree in a food processer. Store in a clean container. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Pesto is so versatile. Smother it on baked chicken, as a base for pizza instead of a tomato sauce, on barbecued vegetables, as a dip with crackers or raw vegetables, the options are endless, however on a long lazy summers day I like to simply mix it through some cooked pasta, grab a cold sparkling grape juice and enjoy.
*if you don’t like the taste of raw garlic or just want to jazz up your pesto used roasted garlic. Cut the tops off whole garlic cloves, seasons with salt and pepper drizzle with olive oil and wrap it in foil. Pop in the oven at 180degrees for 30-40 minutes, once cooled squeeze the sweet garlic out of the clove.