I love basil and can’t seem to grow enough of it, but when I do, I use it to make basil pesto. The flavour and freshness of homemade pesto is unbelievable! Harvest the basil before it flowers for the best taste.
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive or Canola oil
3 tbsp pine nuts
3 – 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
Process basil leaves in small batches in food processor until well chopped (do about 3/4 cup at a time). Add 1/3 of the nuts and garlic, and blend again. Add 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese; blend while slowly adding 1/3 of the olive oil, stopping to scrape down sides of container. Process basil pesto until it forms a thick smooth paste. Repeat until all ingredients are used.
Serve over pasta or as a base for pizza. Basil pesto keeps in the refrigerator for about one week, or in the freezer for a few months.
All about basil
There are many kinds of basil, all slightly different in taste. Sweet basil is the one most often seen in grocery stores, but you can also grow purple leafed basils, cinnamon basil, lemon basil and lettuce leaf basil.
Cinnamon basil has purple flowers and dark green leaves growing from a cinnamon coloured stem. It has, not surprisingly, a cinnamon flavour.
Lemon basil has small light green leaves and a lemony fragrance and flavour.
Lettuce leaf basil is quite sweet and has large crinkly leaves.
Spicy globe basil has a delicate flavour and grows well in pots on window sills.
Purple Ruffles is good as a garnish or in salad and is ornamental in the garden.
Thai basil has a slightly anise flavour.
In warm climates some basils are grown as perennials but it is always grown as an annual in this part of the world because it is very sensitive to cold.