At the end of each growing season I actually feel a loss when the Basil can no longer continue to give to me! But during the summer months I get to enjoy its prolific leaves in abundance. Its not uncommon for me to step outside, see my basil and know it must all be harvested that day if I want it to continue to produce. It grows, and also goes to seed, very quickly. But it you harvest it regularly, it will continue to produce fragment, wonderful leaves all summer long.
I make sure to grow plenty of basil so that I can make enough pesto to last us a couple of months. I actually do not freeze many things, but basil pesto takes remarkably well to freezing, giving us the opportunity to enjoy its herbaceous flavor for months to come.
There are many, many pesto recipes out there which I originally found quite interesting because pesto only requires a handful of ingredients- how many variations could there be? Well, over time, I have learned that pesto is personal! You take those same ingredients and you make it just the way you like it. I have tried a few recipes and ended up with Ina Garten’s, which I then tweaked to make it the way I like it which is not as oily, slightly less garlicky and uses a combination of cheeses.
Here is what I do.
In my food processor (which is more like a blender and not a real food processor) I combine 1/4 cup of walnuts and 1/4 cup pignoli nuts with 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and pulse until combined into a paste like consistency. Then I add 6 cups of fresh basil leaves, 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to your liking if needed, BUT Remember: You can always put the salt in but you can’t take the salt out!) and 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper and blend well. With the blender or food processor running, slowly pour in about 1 cup of olive oil. (you may decide you want more oil- its a preference!) Once pesto has come together, Add 1 cup of parmesan-romano blend and puree for another minute to incorporate well. Transfer to your storage container of choice and top with a thin layer of olive oil, cover and store until ready to use.