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Friday, 2 June 2006

basil pesto with whole pine nuts (WHB#35: basil)

Filed under: crossblogging,food & drink,main course,WHB — ejm @ 11:27 EDT

WHB#35: basil (Ocimum basilicum)

(click on image for larger view of of basil in the garden)
basil The other day, I was admiring our newly transplanted planted basil and wishing it would grow faster. Then I remembered that we still have some of last year’s pesto in the freezer! How perfect was that? We could have our cake pesto and eat it too!

It was a beautiful day so we decided to grill some porkchops and serve spaghettini with pesto as a sidedish. We often use pecans in our basil pesto but this time we had a hankering for pinenuts. Whole pinenuts. Not pulverized beyond recognition. So they will lend their crunchy texture to the pasta as well as that they can be tasted and savoured properly.

As the pesto cubes thawed (they really take no time at all), T tossed some pinenuts and chopped garlic in olive oil until the pinenuts and garlic were just golden. He then added the basil mixture. (Here is our basil pesto recipe.)

(click on image more photos of basil pesto)
grilled chops, spaghettini with basil pesto, sugar snap peas Then he quickly grilled some porkchops as I set the table and prepared the basil garnish and sugarsnap peas (notice how I hardly had to do any work at all?? :jump:)

And yes, indeed, our dinner was wonderful again.

Weekend Herb Blogging #35: basil (Ocimum basilicum)

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen Basil is an annual (has to be planted every year) that likes lots of sun and warmth. Night temperatures shouldn’t go much below 10C. Water daily when it is hot. Pinch flowers off to encourage more leaf growth, otherwise the plant will go to seed.

I plant Genovese, Dark Opal (Ocimum bacilicum ‘Purpurascens’ …other years it has been Ocimum bacilicum ‘Purple Ruffles’), and Thai (Ocimum ‘Siam Queen’) basil in pots on our patio. (one plant per 8 inch pot) The leaves and flowers have an intense flavour; a little goes a long way. Genovese and Opal taste roughly the same and both are fine for pesto. Thai basil is slightly milder in taste that the others and makes a good garnish. Basil is excellent with grilled meats, Asian food, on pizza or in pesto.

I have also grown cinnamon basil in the past. The flowers definitely have a scent reminscent of cinnamon but otherwise, it is pretty much just like Genovese, though perhaps a little rougher tasting. It works perfectly well in pesto though.

We use leaves and flowers for garnishes throughout the summer season. In early autumn, I cut the stalks and either make pesto from the leaves of Genovese and Purple basils or hang the stalks upside down to dry. As required, we crush dried leaves onto pizza or into tomato sauce throughout the winter. Our air-dried basil is far superior to storebought dried basil. It actually smells like basil…

If you cannot grow basil in your garden, starting around the end of August, many of the vegetable stores sell basil in large bunches. If you like to use dried basil in your cooking, it’s worthwhile to buy a couple of bunches and dry them in your kitchen. Cheaper in the long run too!!

Kalyn’s Kitchen – home of weekend herb blogging

edit 5 June 2006 @ 07:59 EDT: … read the
Weekend Herb Blogging #35 Recap (includes information about ‘The Green Blog Project’)


  • kalyn

    Loved the photos of how you made everything. I like your idea of making the pesto minus nuts and cheese and adding those later. I pulse basil in my food processor with olive oil and freeze that. I’m always amazed when I read in recipe books that basil can’t be frozen.

    I LOVE the idea of using the pine nuts whole. Completely inspired.

  • ejm

    Thank you, Kalyn.

    I wish I could take credit for thinking of it, but I’m pretty sure I read (in several different places) about preparing only the basil,oil,garlic part and adding the other stuff later…

    And yes, it is rather amazing that some people say that basil can’t be frozen. I remember that I did have a problem with it going black in the freezer when I was first making pesto. But as soon as I discovered the importance of using completely dry fresh basil and covering every cut piece of basil with olive oil, the discoloration problem ended.

    And I also wish that I could take credit for the whole pinenuts instead of ground. But it was my husband who came up with that brilliant idea.


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