Presto – you have pesto!

September 10, 2013 

  • Pesto Put the following ingredients in a blender or food processor: 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves 1/3 cup pine nuts 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese Blend until ingredients are combined. With the machine running, slowly add 1/2 cup of olive oil until it forms a thick paste. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Store in the refrigerator or freeze some for future use. *Spoon pesto into ice trays and freeze. Transfer frozen pesto cubes into zip lock bags and keep in the freezer. They last a long time this way. Pull out a cube or two and use as needed in recipes. How handy is that? Low-fat Pesto If you’d like to make a lighter version, try this recipe. The only real difference is that you substitute lemon juice for the olive oil and cut back on the pine nuts and cheese.Put the following ingredients in a blender or food processor: 1 1/2 cups of fresh basil leaves 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1/4 cup pine nuts 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese Blend ingredients until combined. With the machine running, slowly add 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and blend until it forms a thick paste. Store in refrigerator or freeze for future use.

I’ve had an herb garden in my backyard for at least 25 years – first at our home in New York and now at our South Carolina residence. There’s nothing like stepping out the back door and snipping some fresh herbs to add to your favorite recipes. They add a depth of flavor and a freshness that is amazing.

Most herbs are perennials so you really can create a beautiful garden with them. Currently I have the favorite foursome – parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme – as well as tarragon, chives, oregano, lavender, lemon grass, fennel and dill growing in my herb garden.

I love them all, but my absolute favorite herb is basil. There’s nothing quite as enticing as its sweet smell. It tastes just as good as it smells. Unfortunately basil is an annual and you have to start from scratch with new plants every year.

Bummer.

All summer I use basil in salads, soups, jelly (yes, I make basil jelly), and any dishes with fresh tomatoes in them. The marriage of summer tomatoes and fresh basil was made in heaven. They were meant for each other.

Those little basil plants that started small in the spring are usually waist high by summer’s end. This is basil’s finest hour. It’s time to make what basil is famous for – pesto.

Pesto is easy to make and hard to beat. Spread fresh pesto on pizza and sandwiches, add it to soups, or toss with pasta. Spoon some into any dish you’d like. It’s like adding a little taste of summer to your favorite recipe. Ahhh...life is good.

Joy Smith is a resident of Fort Mill

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