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Basil, my Love

If I could marry a plant, it would be basil.


As a seedling, it’s a darling glossy emerald beauty. It looks like its adult plant from the get-go. So beautiful that when I had to thin the plants we’d started from seed a couple years back, I was nearly reduced to tears. I was pinching off the runts, when I caught the scent of basil. The little seedlings smelled as strongly as the full grown leaves.

I’ve gotten tougher over the gardening years, but I’m still in love with basil.

I suppose others have many uses for basil but I grow it with one purpose in mind: Pesto.

And, although there are many variations on pesto, here’s the very best recipe.

Pesto Sauce
(inspired by Jane Brody’s healthy cooking, but snazzled up a bit)

Put 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 olive oil into the blender. Blend until smooth. Add 2 cups of packed washed fresh basil leaves, preferably straight from the garden. You might need to push the basil down with an implement, with the blender off. Add 1/4 cup of pine nuts and blend until the mixture is smooth. Add 2 tbs of soft butter (that’s where Jane and I part company) and blend. Stir in 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Thin with a little water or broth if you’d like.

Our favorite way to eat pesto is on pasta, either by itself or with chicken or shrimp too. Pesto is also great spread for sandwiches or a short cut to making bruschetta. I had a wonderful grilled cheese with pesto at a restaurant that I’m going to imitate at home very soon. It’s also good in a thick vegetable soup or added to mashed potatoes. Most of the time, we go for plain pesto pasta perfection.

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