it’s basil pesto time again (WHB#101: basil)

Even though it’s not the weekend, here is my post for

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB #101) – Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

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basil Yes! Lucky us!! Last night we had basil pesto!

Even though I’m dreading the coming cold and ice, I love this time of year. Every late August and September, as well as the other bounties of apples, peaches, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, etc. etc., one of our local vegetable stores sells huge bunches of basil. This year each bunch cost $1.50. There are one and a half bunches in the vase.

Because basil leaves can discolour so easily if the leaves are dried in a salad spinner, I wash the basil as soon as I bring it home and put it into a vase to dry overnight. Then I simply pull the clean dry leaves off the stalks and throw them into the food processor with a few parsley leaves and olive oil. Only after the leaves are puréed do I add garlic, pepper and seasalt. (Of course, pesto made with discoloured leaves still tastes good, but it’s so much nicer to have green rather than dark grey pesto…)

I can’t begin to describe that amazing smell of the whole house yesterday morning as I came down the stairs to make morning coffee. Basil!! Everywhere!! Who wants roses or lilies to scent the indoors?! Pffft! If only we could have vases filled with basil all the time.

basil pesto Hmmm, maybe we will get more basil! All those leaves and this is all that was produced! Not even two trays! This will never do for two hogs like us…

(click on images for larger views and more photos)

basil Last night, we used 6 cubes (from last year’s pesto stash) and added whole toasted pine nuts to toss in whole wheat egg pasta that T made. Whole wheat egg pasta?! How very granola of us. But the whole wheat flour adds a wonderful texture.

We decided not to add any cheese this time because it would be like gilding the lily (not to mention that we didn’t have any parmiggiano cheese in the house :lalala:). We served the pasta with steamed sugar snap peas, grilled hot red peppers and barbecued chicken. You guessed it. Another Delicious Dinner!

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) #101: basil (Ocimum basilicum)

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen Basil is one of our favourite herbs so it’s no surprise that I have already featured basil for Kalyn’s (Kalyn’s Kitchen) wonderful weekly event, “Weekend Herb Blogging”. What surprises me is that I’ve only posted about it once for WHB! We use basil all the time.

In the summer, just before dinner, I go out in the garden to find a garnish and invariably pinch off a few leaves from the basil growing in pots in our shady garden. Yes, basil does prefer full sun but it will grow in partial shade. Not as prolifically as it would in full sun but definitely well enough for us to have a few leaves just about every night. We rely on the commercial growers to supply us with basil for pesto.

Basil is an annual so there is no point in bringing it in to overwinter indoors. Besides, indoor grown herbs just don’t have the same intense flavour as those that are grown outside in the sun. So as soon as the night temperatures start dropping below 10C, I’ll harvest the whole basil plants and hang them to dry. That is what happened to the other half bunch of purchased basil. It is already hanging to dry. To be used on pizza or in stews. Of course, fresh basil is the best but dried basil that is just a few months old still retains the intense aroma and taste of basil rather than smelling like tea the way that commercial dried basil smells.

It’s simple to do. Gently wash the basil to remove dust, spider webs and/or stray insects and hang the stalks upside down to dry in a darkish place with plenty of air circulation. As required, crush dried leaves onto pizza or into tomato sauce throughout the winter.

Read more about basil:

WHB#101 is hosted by Myriam (Once Upon a Tart) this week. The deadline for entries is Sunday, 23 September 2007. If you would like to participate, please read more here:

edit 25 September 2007: Myriam has posted the roundup!

  • Once Upon a Tart – WHB#101 roundup


3 responses to “it’s basil pesto time again (WHB#101: basil)

  1. Mindful MiMi

    Don’t you just love pesto? Home-made is just the best.
    Here is a maybe unusual way to add pesto to a recipe.

    Tomato lasagna with pesto and Serrano ham

    Edit: The recipe may be viewable here: (scroll down to “Tomato lasagna with pesto and Serrano ham”) -ejm

  2. Kalyn

    You know I love basil just as much as you do! I just keep trimming my basil and either just freezing the pureed basil or making pesto, and it keeps coming back. Last weekend I decided I had to do something with the huge masses of Thai basil I had this year, so I even froze some of that. No idea what I’ll do with it, any ideas? I had a whole ice cube tray full though, far too much to just throw away and it was completely gone to seed so it had to be cut.

  3. ejm Post author

    Mmmm, that sounds good, MiMi!

    I suppose you could make Italian-style basil pesto with your Thai basil, Kalyn. Or possibly freeze it whole (covered in oil) and use it in Thai-style curry? Oh wait, you’ve already frozen it, haven’t you? Might it work in a Thai-style curry anyway? We’ve always used fresh basil in curry but I guess that frozen might work too??

    Thai-style chicken curry

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