Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Farm First: Fresh Basil Pesto

I have had a big moment in my personal gardening history: I harvested my first basil. And not only was it my first basil, this is basil that I grew from seed. Those sickly, yellowing basil seedlings that I showed pictures of back in June :

actually changed their minds about dying and grew big and strong instead:

The first harvest happened on Thursday:

The smell in my kitchen was heavenly:

Following incredibly helpful harvesting techniques from Dina (Dina's Hip Chick Chronicles) and a quick and simple pesto recipe from Judy (No Fear Entertaining), I made my first-ever batch of homemade pesto:

All of this with a specific promise and goal in mind: my husband's favorite dish, Pesto Pasta. Using spiral noodles from my favorite store:

Fresh avocados:

and a handwritten recipe from a once-dear friend who is, sadly, a friend no more:

I loved the fact that I didn't have to use store-bought container pesto this time:

My husband was in pesto pasta heaven. It was so YUMMY:

I am in love with the smell of basil....


  1. Mmmm, that looks yummy. Frugalmom inspired me last year to make my own pesto when she posted a recipe for a tomato tart. Yumm-E! My basil is puney this year so far.

  2. I've only used basil in cooking once (yeah, I know...) but it really does have a heavenly smell. The essential oil is rather different, and lacks the green freshness of the fresh herb.

  3. I made some pesto for a first time this summer. It was strong but good. i too love the smell of basil!

  4. I love fresh pesto. I actually have basil that needs harvesting. Pesto may be dinner tomorrow night.

  5. That sounds so good Danni, I wish I could get my husband to eat something like this!! I've got basil out on the deck....maybe I'll just go for it!!

  6. With avocado! Yum! I loooove fresh pesto, and yours looks super. That TJ's pasta is awesome for homemade sauce.

    ...your post has made me incredibly hungry.

  7. I can smell it all the way over here. I love, love, love basil and the way it smells. I have some in my fridge right now.

    I am going to give your recipe a try and see how the family likes it.

    Im so glad that you grew it and made pesto to boot. Wasnt it great fun?

  8. I pick up basil at the market every week, make pesto, and freeze it in ice cube trays.

    I just tried to plant basil in a box at the new "farm house" only to find that something kicked all of the dirt out of my box the next day.

    I am SO going to be getting your advice next year, when we start gardening among the critters.

    Btw, have never heard of putting avocado in pesto. Going to give it a shot next!

  9. Making homemade pesto from your own garden grown basil is very satisfying, isnt' it? Fun and delicious too. I put more basil in mine than the recipe you noted, but the rest is very similiar and all ingredients can be adjusted to personal taste. I freeze my extra pesto (with the cheese right in it) to use during Fall and Winter. Works great! By the way, we shop at the same store. I love Trader Joe's too! I also adore the shots of your really cool kitchen. Mine is so small. I have "kitchen envy" I guess.

  10. Life is good, especially with basil in your garden! I, too, love everything about fresh basil. We grew three plants from seed and only one is doing well. However, the two large plants we bought at a local nursery are doing quite well. We also have access to a couple huge plants growing well in the hoop house we built to keep the deer out of our garden, and I harvested enough to make two large batches of pesto. We and our two guests loved it, and we used wheat pasta which was quite good. (It's healthier, but I really like "regular" pasta best.) I served ours with grilled shrimp.

    I can't tell by your picture if the avocado is mashed up in the pesto, or sliced/chopped up as garnish?

  11. Hi mim - your basil may still surprise you - I know mine sure did. I thought for sure it was a "goner", but it really took off!

    Hi solomon - I'm dying to know what you made that one time you cooked with it (basil)! Tell me, please?

    Hi country girl - Can you believe it wasn't until last summer that I actually fell in love with the smell of basil? Before then, I couldn't care less!

    Hi Christy - I'll tell you, the difference between container pesto and freshly made was stunning for us. I used a bit of extra garlic and between the fresh basil and that, it has a bit of a spicy kick to it. Lovely!

    Hi eve - your husband doesn't like green stuff? My guy isn't much of a veggie eater, but he sure loves this green pesto stuff!

    Thanks, meg! :-)

    Hi frugalmom - it WAS fun...the whole process from harvesting to making to eating was a thrill!

    Hi gnight girl, my mom was just telling me about the pesto icecube tray trick this afternoon!
    Just for clarification, though, the avocado doesn't go into the pesto per se, it goes into the pasta that has the pesto already mixed in.

    Hi farmer jen, Ah, good to know that one can, indeed, freeze the cheese in the pesto - I was wondering about that. Trader Joe's ROCKS - I adore shopping there!

    Hi california grammy, grilled shrimp with pesto sounds delicious, too. In answer to your question, the pesto is made first (no avocado). When making the pesto pasta, then, I stir in the pesto, add additional pine nuts, dice up the 2 avocados and grate the cheese. I toss it all then until it's all mixed together. Mmmmm.....

  12. Princess, try pesto from arugula some time. Here's a good recipe to start with.

    De-friggin-licious, and you can grow arugula in about any kind of weather. It's practically a weed.

  13. Homemade pesto is the best pesto. Yours looks devine. My fam loves pesto pasta, who wouldn't? We also love it on pizza, replace tomato sauce with a pesto smear, add pepperoni and cheese, it's heavenly.

  14. I, too, am deeply in love with the smell of basil. I can't get enough of it!

    PS- If you use a little lemon in the pesto, it freezes really well and leads to much mid-winter bliss.

  15. Awww Yes! Fresh basil and the smell that abounds. I too made several batches of pesto. My husband adores pesto. I froze mine in small batches so we could use it for several recipes. Did you see the pizza at the Pioneer Woman site using pesto instead of red sauce? I want to try that.

  16. Danni,

    I'm SO proud of you! Gold star! Woo Hoo! Congratulations!

    The smell is heady, isn't it? And most definitely habit-forming!

    I freeze mine with the cheese included, too - it holds very nicely. I am usually using my last freezer container of pesto from the prior year just before it's time to make more in the current year.

    I, too, adore avocado with pesto... well, and lots of other things! LOL! Like right now, big time addicted to avocado and Brianna's Honey Mustard dressing... Okay - I need a snack!

  17. Yum! Even goats like basil. You have wonderful recipes. The goatfather likes to bake bread and your 'Earth Bread' is our favorite! They even give me some sometimes. :)


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