Sometimes the best days are the days when nothing much happens, allowing us time to just notice, what is.
There's been a nip in the air this past week, but nothing too dramatic, so I was caught by surprise when I saw this little hint of fall foliage today. And just the one red leaf. Hanging there, quivering in the wind and waving as I passed by. Catching my eye. A small harbinger of autumn, which apparently may be arriving sooner than we think. It's hard to know.
The weather just keeps us guessing. It was mostly misty and mild with a warm day thrown in once in awhile to remind us it was summer. Which is good for the gardener, but not the garden. I can only hope my tomatoes follow suit and turn this same bright shade of RED.
I won't hold my breath though. I know better. Alas, no ripe-red harvest to crow about here in Zone 8--but basil we do have. Hurray! And that means it's time to make PESTO.
Here's the recipe I always use:
Makes about 1-1/2 cups; enough to freeze or refridgerate until ready to use. Do all the prep work before you place the following ingredients into a food processor:
1 whole garlic; crush cloves, peel and coarsely chop
1 cup of pine nuts; lightly pan roasted with 1 T. olive oil and the garlic. Set aside to cool.
2 big bunches fresh basil; rinse, pat dry, remove stems and flowers. You should have about 8 cups of fresh leaves.
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
*Add 1 cup grated parmesan; if you plan to use pesto fresh. Leave out the cheese if you freeze it and add it to the thawed pesto later.
To prepare: Put the basil leaves into the food processor bowl and coarse chop. Add the pine nuts and garlic. With the processor running, drizzle the olive oil slowly into the feed shoot until you have the consistency desired. That's it!
To store: Keep in fridge and use within a week. For longer storage, I like to make little individual packets. Spoon the mixture into ziploc snack bags (about 2 T. in each one). Then gently squeeze out the air, close the seal and smooth the pesto out evenly and flat so it fills all the corners. Place the bags on a cookie sheet and freeze until firm. Then store them all in a plastic freezer containor or a large freezer bag. It will keep for a year or longer.
To use: Remove pesto from the bag while it is still frozen so it all comes out in one nice clean piece. No mess, no waste. You can also just break off a piece if you only need a small amount for flavoring vegetables; say mashed potatoes, for instance. (You will not believe how good that is! )
*Combine the thawed pesto with pasta and any hard fresh grated cheeses, like asiago, parmesan, and romano.
Try this too: Add a teaspoon of pesto to a basic oil and vinegar salad dressing to give it extra zing. Mixed with cream cheese or goat cheese it makes a wonderful spread on crackers and bread; easy to throw together when company calls unexpectedly.