Basil is my favourite herb. The scent makes me feel good and hungry for fresh, healthy meals. I used to know this older Italian man who would stick basil leaves up his nose while working his garden. Said it gave him energy. I have to say I agree with him and if we weren’t in such a critical society, I’d probably walk around life with basil leaves in my nose all day long. I’d be much happier but I would probably crave more pasta…Just a quick note to show my love for basil, my wedding bouquet was composed of mostly basil leaves along with a few white roses. This was also in honour of the ancient Roman tradition when “brides carried bunches of herbs to symbolize fidelity and fertility — and to scare off evil spirits.” Another reason basil makes you feel good, is probably that it really does ward off evil spirits. I noticed this in Mexico City as it is very common for people to be cleansed of evil by brushing the affected person’s body with basil bouquets. This practice comes from the ancient Aztecs who also used basil as an herbal remedy. I always thought I had an attachment to the spiritual world, maybe I should start with basil. But first let me eat it.
It’s almost the end of August and we’re quickly approaching the harvest season. The market is filled with tons of different types of eggplants, tomatoes, mushrooms, corn and berries. After scoring some amazingly colourful veg, I noticed how basil bouquets were everywhere and I just couldn’t resist. $2.50 for a huge bunch of basil is a good deal I could not pass up. The next step is figuring out what to do with this incredibly fragrant herb. Obviously, pesto was my first thought! Pesto is so easy to make, freezes perfectly in ice-cube trays and added to sauces, vegetables, soups, chicken and fish. Here is the recipe that my mother taught me how to make, notice how there aren’t any real measurements. Reason being, my mother never cooked with measuring cups or tablespoons. Everything delicious is prepared by eye and trusting your flavour buds.
1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried
3 medium cloves of garlic
one small handful of raw pine nuts
roughly 3/4 cup Parmesan, loosely packed and FRESHLY GRATED
A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
To make a really authentic pesto, you should hand chop all the ingredients with a mezzaluna or sharp knife. However, you can make it easier on yourself and simply use a blender or food processor if you don’t have the skills or patience. This recipe freezes well by adding the pesto to an ice tray, freezing and then passing the cubes to a freezer safe container. Just take out as many cubes as you need and defrost. Add a little olive oil if needed and voilà. Pesto for the next 6 months!
After having made this pesto recipe, I still have a nice bunch of basil leaves left so here are a few ways I will be integrating basil in my meals this week through these recipes from my favorite sites. I’ll post my pictures as I go along 😉