The garden is bursting with basil, so let’s make some pesto together!

Fresh basil

I love basil! The look of it. The smell of it. The taste of it. I especially love that we’re growing it in our garden. Every night I’m out there snipping off leaves so I can add some to whatever I’m making. Salad, pizza, pasta.

According to the Herb Society of America, basil is a member of the mint family. There are about 40 varieties — you may have seen some at your local farmers market, but the most common variety is sweet basil.

The Society also has this to say: “Basil’s folklore is as complex as its flavor and aromas. In terms of its legend and symbolism, basil has been both loved and feared. Its associations include such polar opposites as love and hate, danger and protection, and life and death.”

If you’d like to know even more about basil, the Society put together a comprehensive Basil Guide.

Let’s make some pesto

One of my favorite things to make with basil is pesto. By itself, basil is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Mixed with the other pesto ingredients, it’s a bit of a different story. And I’m sure pesto has a gazillion calories, but it’s oh, so good!

The recipe I use I found years ago in the Silver Palate Cookbook. Because it’s simply too delicious to keep to myself, I’m sharing it with you. You’re welcome!

Basil Pesto
Author: Silver Palate Cookbook
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 4 medium-size cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1 cup best quality olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • Instructions
Instructions
  1. Process basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor fitted with a steel blade or in two batches in a blender — until finely chopped.
  2. With the machine running, pour in the olive oil in a thin, steady stream
  3. Add the cheeses, a pinch of salt, and a liberal grinding of pepper.  Process briefly to combine.
  4. Pour into a bowl and cover until ready to use.
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I realize not everyone has a garden filled with basil plants in the backyard, so I’ll also share a map of all the farmers markets in Maine. Now is a great time to buy basil and lots of other fresh produce.

Enjoy and remember, all good things in moderation!

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. Now she writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.