07 October 2021

Homegrown and Homemade - Basil Pesto

 In this episode of Homegrown and Homemade, I make basil pesto!

Pesto from Basil I Grew from Seed

Seed packet for purple opal basil from Baker Creek.
Backstory - in December 2019, I ordered seeds from Baker Creek. In my order they sent a free package of Dark Purple Opal basil seeds. I planted them in the spring of 2020 and they did really well in my garden. I kept saying I was going to make pesto with it, but I didn't own a food processor. I read articles about doing it by hand with a kitchen knife and thought I would give it a try. But I never did.

I planted the basil again this year, and was determined to do more than add the basil to salads and sandwiches. I bought a food processor and within a day was picking basil and making pesto.  

Food processor and basil on a drying rack.

I had more basil than I needed for that batch of pesto, so I put them on a rack to slowly air dry in my oven. 

My basil plant is still producing and I plan to make more pesto, both to eat fresh and to freeze for eating later.  I have planted more seeds and am letting some go to seed to learn if I can keep some going through the winter. 

What is really exciting about this having something else to put on my pasta. I had trouble with acid reflex a few years ago, and one thing I did to help control it was eliminate tomato-based pasta sauces. Since then, I've eaten pasta with a splash of olive oil and some cheese. It is good that way, but I got tired of only that. This summer I started taking fresh tomatoes, bell peppers and some greens from my garden, sautéed them in some olive oil and tossed with pasta and parmesan cheese. And now, I can make pesto and use that as well!

Making the Pesto

I'm reading The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila and adapted her recipe. Here's what I did:

Chopped 1/2 cup walnuts in the food processor. 

Added in 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 2 cups packed, fresh basil leaves roughly chopped

Processed until basil leaves were finely minced. 

Sprinkled in garlic powder (fresh garlic can be another trigger to my reflux) and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then turned on processor and poured in 1/2 cup olive oil and processed for a few more seconds. (Basically, I ran it until it looked like I wanted it to.)


Using and Storing the Pesto

Basil pesto in a plastic bowl with a spoon.

I ate some as a dip with crackers, then put the rest in a container, covered with olive oil, and stored in fridge. You can add in grated parmesan cheese when you eat it. You can also put in freezer (without cheese) and store for up to 6 months.

Once the basil in the oven is dry, I'm going to crumble it up and use in recipes as needed.

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