After one of the driest summers on record here in Philadelphia, not much survived in our garden. The tomato plants struggled to stay green and budded only a few little tomatoes. The cucumber plant managed to grow a couple of little cucumbers and one large one following one of our only heavy rains of the summer. But one plant did not let us down this summer and that was our Basil plant. Long, fragrant green basil leaves sprouted again and again from our humble garden. Temperatures dropped last week, sometimes in the 50s overnight. I feared the Basil plant would soon be no more, so I it was time to harvest.
I knew exactly what I would do with the Basil harvest. Pistachio Pesto would be the fate of my plentiful Basil leaves. After snipping away at the plant for a while, I thoroughly washed my garden green before concocting a pure and beautiful pesto. I say pure because I usually cut the Basil with spinach leaves to save a bit on pricey store-bought Basil. When your garden supplies for free, there is no reason to use spinach. With a bag of freshly shelled pistachios in my pantry, I chose to use this nut instead of the traditional pine nut. By the way, any nut can make a fabulous flavor burst within a pesto. My favorites are pistachio, walnut, and the pine nut. With my pistachios on hand, olive oil, fresh lemon zest and juice, fresh garlic, salt and pepper, and of course a giant pile of Basil leaves, I was ready to make a beautifully simple pesto.
Lizzy M.'s Pistachio Pesto
1 large bunch fresh Basil leaves
4 oz. pistachio nuts, shelled
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a food processor, blend the pistachios and garlic cloves until it looks like a bread crumb mixture.
2. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and basil leaves.
3. Using the opening at the top of the food processor, slowly steam in the extra virgin olive oil as the ingredients blend together. Continue until a green colored almost creamy mixture forms and then you have your pesto!
4. Use pesto immediately or portion into small plastic bags, which can be stored in the freezer until ready to use. For frozen pesto, just remove from the freezer a few hours before using. It tastes just as fresh and delicious as it would on the day it was made. This way you can enjoy undeniable decadent flavor of fresh basil even throughout the cold winter months.
Delight in the savory satisfying flavorful of pesto mixed with vegetable pasta dishes, topped on a grilled chicken breast or smeared on top of a warm flat bread topped with cheese. Your pesto can even make a fabulous, tangy dressing on any salad or pasta salad by just adding a touch of red wine vinegar to thin out the pesto. Grill or saute all of your favorite vegetables and toss in pesto for a healthful, comforting meal.
Make your pesto today with the last of the summer Basil, so you can partake all year round!