I. Love. Pesto. Now, these adorable little seedlings are a long way from becoming pesto — I don’t even have enough pots to contain the hundreds of the little darlings that sprouted. They’re ready to be thinned and re-potted and I should have enough to supply the entire town!
We enjoy pesto, warm or cold on pasta, potatoes, or on toasted baguette slices. I also like to use it to “baste” baked chicken breasts — spread warm on a chicken sandwich, it’s delicious. Below is the simple recipe I use:
Sweet Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Olive oil
3-4 tablespoons pine nuts
(walnuts can replace pinenuts, but I often find them bitter)
2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Put basil leaves in food processor and pulse until well chopped (do about 3/4 cup at a time). Add about 1/3 the nuts and garlic, blend again. Add about 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese; blend while slowly adding about 1/3 of the olive oil, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of container.
Process mixture until it forms a thick smooth paste. Repeat until all ingredients are used, mix all batches together well. Basil pesto keeps in refrigerator one week, or you can freeze in frequently-used amounts for a few months.
Basil is a good source of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream, preventing cholesterol from building up in the blood vessels. Magnesium is also present in basil. This essential mineral helps the heart and blood vessels to relax, improving blood flow. Other healthy nutrients found in basil include iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.