Last weekend my husband, The King of Soup as you may recall, closed down our back deck. That means all of our pots of beautiful flowers were emptied, earth saved in a large bin for next year’s planting. It also means the last of our vegetables and herbs were harvested. We got a few good-sized potatoes, and a giant pile of basil. We had left the lemongrass too long so it had to be chucked out.
The giant pile of basil meant that it was time to make pesto. Last season we experimented and came up with some kooky combinations (like basil-almond-cheddar-sundried tomato). This year we decided to keep it simple.
Here’s my recipe for Basil Spinach Pesto. You can halve this recipe easily.
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed, washed, and spun in a salad spinner to remove excess water
2 cups baby spinach, packed, washed, and spun in a salad spinner to remove excess water
About 1 ½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup extra virgin olive oil (truth be told, I didn’t have enough so I topped it up with grapeseed oil)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup walnuts, toasted
7 or 8 cloves of garlic, medium sized
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Put the garlic and toasted nuts into the food processor and pulse a few times til chopped.
Add in the basil and do it again, then the spinach. Pour the oil in through the feeder tube while the machine is chopping.
Add the cheese and salt and pepper and pulse together again. Taste it. Add more salt and pepper as required.
Bottle it up and serve with fresh pasta, in an omelette, on some baguette, on some crackers, in a risotto, mixed with potatoes (cold or hot), on a sandwich...the list goes on.
If you would like to freeze the pesto, don’t add the cheese as it doesn’t freeze well. Put the cheese-less pesto in ice cube trays and pop them in the freezer. Once frozen, pop them out into a freezer bag and store back in the freezer. When you thaw the cubes out you can add the cheese to your dish.
This makes a very excellent gift. In fact, I gave a bottle to my beautiful cousin Julia the very evening I made this batch as it was her birthday. Now her love for me is guaranteed forever.