If I had to pick a scent that screams summer, it would be the aroma of fresh basil. I use this fragrant summer herb, straight from the garden, as an unexpected pop of flavor in sandwiches and salads, sprinkled on pizza and eggs and of course as the star ingredient in fresh tomato sauce. Needless to say, I’m basil obsessed. Our garden is gifting us with gorgeous basil plants this year so it’s pesto time. Pesto is a fabulous way to use up lots of basil at one time. Use pesto as a topping for grilled fish, burgers or chicken, tossed with warm pasta or add it to scrambled eggs for a light, summer meal.
Garden Fresh Pesto
2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems, pressed into a measuring cup)
3 tablespoons walnuts
2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine basil, walnuts and garlic in a food processor. Process until finely minced, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until the mixture is smooth. Add the cheese and process for a few pulses, just to combine. Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you want to freeze the pesto, don’t add the cheese. You can stir the cheese into the pesto after the pesto defrosts.
Note: Pesto originated in Genoa, Italy and is a sauce traditionally made from basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan Reggiano. There are many varieties of pesto ranging from parsley, arugula, spinach to sun-dried tomato. Traditional pesto recipes call for pine nuts but I prefer to use walnuts because I always have them in my freezer and they add a dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
Nutrition Note: Basil is considered a dark leafy green and it is rich in antioxidant compounds called flavonoids. It’s also considered to have antibacterial properties from the volatile oils within the basil leaves. A ½ cup of basil provides 98% of your daily requirement for vitamin K.