August is here and so is an abundance of basil in the garden - what is there to do, but make pesto!
Why make pesto?
With the warmth of summer lingering and your basil plants growing at a terrific clip, now is the ideal time to make pesto. Traditionally made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan, I'm offering you a tasty and inexpensive alternative that's plant-based. There are many varieties of basil with different aromas and tasting notes - for a traditional(ish) pesto stick with the more conventional (less liquorice) flavours. Before you start: basil is best picked or harvested right when you are ready to make your pesto. It's a bit tricky to store and tends to brown in the fridge and wilt when stored on the counter. My pesto batch was made by "pinching" the top leaf groups of my organic genovese and dark opal basil; when I do this I transfer them immediately to a cold water bath at my side as I move through the garden. You can also harvest your entire plant or find local organic basil at your farmer's market.
My tried and true plant-based pesto recipe comes from the lovely Dana at Minimalist Baker. The beauty of this recipe is that it gives you, the chef, the flexibility to add your own preferences to the pesto. Do you like it a bit more garlicky? Lemony? "Cheesy"? There also isn't a dependence on luxury ingredients like parmesan and pine nuts - nutritional yeast and walnuts get the job done here and even the most discerning of pesto tasters will enjoy the flavour profile. Find the recipe here.
This pesto pairs well with a crisp summer rosé. It is great with pasta, on homemade pizza, with some crusty toasted bread and with roasted tomatoes fresh from the garden. I like to be judicious with the amount of water I add, to get a thicker pesto. I also like it to be a bit chunky, which I find lets the flavours be bold. Drop me a line and let me know if you're planning to make pesto or do indeed try this recipe out.
From garden to table,