But that meant that I would need to learn how to grow basil. Because have you ever seen how much fresh basil costs at the store? And you're not even guaranteed to get un-wilted leaves!
Thus began my cute little potted herb collection...
So, pesto was really my inspiration for herb-growing. I wonder how many people it has done that to... Who doesn't love pesto?! :) Pesto has even become one of our four-year-old's favorite foods!
Now, there are all sorts of pesto recipes out there that use all sorts of different nuts and seeds, cheeses, oils, and herbs. (I once made a delicious cilantro pesto!) The following recipe is a very simple basil pesto that lends itself well to quinoa. Yes, quinoa. I have used pesto on pizzas, over pasta, and in salad dressings. But most often we mix it into cooked quinoa! Quinoa has a nutty taste that is just great with pesto.
I must confess that my friend Sarah makes better pesto than I do. Hers is thicker and less oily, and she uses Parmesan and pine nuts. I wasn't able to grow many herbs last summer, so Sarah generously shared her pesto bounty with us. Sooo good! (And so much less work! Which I wasn't really up for last summer at all. Another one of those food blessings God didn't have to give me but he did.) Maybe I will make Sarah's recipe sometime... For now, this is what I've got.
16 oz quinoa, cooked
3 c fresh basil
2/3 c shredded mozzerella
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c walnuts
1 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
Chop basil in a food processor.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil and process until the mixture is a paste.
Gradually add everything, including the oil, and process until smooth.
Pour into a small saucepan and stir constantly over low heat until simmering.
Pour over quinoa (or pasta) and toss.
One summer I grew enough basil that I was able to regularly make and freeze a lot of pesto, which is super handy to have on busy days. I froze the pesto in ice cube trays, then transferred the cubes into resealable plastic bags. This made it easy to pull a little or a lot of pesto out of the freezer, depending on how much I needed.
Do you like pesto as much as I do? What is your favorite herb?