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Here in North Florida, the basil’s beginning to bolt, thus pesto-making season it is. We inherited a bag-full of Mediterranean basil from our friends Lauren and Jason along with the Thai basil they gave us. When the temperature gets too high, or the plants have run their course, they put up a bloom stalk, which causes the leaves to become bitter. You can ward off this process by pinching off the flowers, but there comes a certain time in the summer where you just have to sacrifice the whole plant and turn it into pesto.

My favorite recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking. The mother-daughter duo, Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer, never seem to go wrong with their recipes. In my 1000 page book of theirs that is dog-eared and food-stained, I have yet to come across one that didn’t work.


(I normally double or triple this recipe, depending on how much basil the plants produce. This recipe makes one cup.)

2 c packed basil leaves
1/2 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c roasted pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 c olive oil


First, roast the pine nuts until golden on a skillet, about 5-7 minutes. Put these in a bowl to cool. (Do not add them while they’re hot to your pesto–they’ll cause the basil leaves to brown.) De-stem the basil leaves. Put all ingredients except the oil in a blender or food processor. Add the oil while the machine is running.

I’ve found that pesto freezes well, so I make as many little Tupperware tubs to stick in the freezer as I can. You can also keep it in the refrigerator, as long as you keep a thin film of olive oil on the top.

I used it as a pizza base, and put grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, and feta cheese as toppings.


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