Tuesday, October 12, 2010

End of Season Basil = Pesto

This year, as well as years past, I had a lot of basil in my garden.  Every year, I have good intentions to actually do something with it at the end of the season, but sadly, due to time constraints, it simply dies on the vine.  What a waste......

But not this year!!!  My Mom and sister gave me inspiration to make pesto. The pesto factory was hard at work at my sister's house with her abundance of basil.  As sisters do, she shared her pesto with me and Mom gave me the recipe.  (You know how the story goes.....this is really good - can I have the recipe?)

Act I
Off to the garden at about 8:30 a.m......I had five large basil plants/bushes to tackle and it was a cool Saturday morning.  Perfect for "harvesting" basil. I started off by cutting down three of the plants and carefully laying them so that the leaves would not get crushed.  I unearthed the largest stainless steel bowl (my grandparents used these ALL of the time in the kitchen) and plucked every basil leaf off the plants.  This was very time consuming.  At this point, I was REALLY glad that I had not cut down all five plants. I ended up with three large bowls full.

I then washed the basil leaves and laid them out on the counter, covered them with papertowels and placed plates on them to help weigh the papertowels down on top of the leaves for quicker drying.   I left them for a while.....I was quickly tiring of basil.

I returned later, chopped up the basil, added EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and placed the mixture in three large mason jars.  According to the recipe that my Mom and sister gave me, this was enough for nine recipes.  I did not have the remaining ingredients to finish making the pesto so I put the jars in the fridge until I was able to go to Aldi. At this point, frankly, I was done with basil.

Lucky for me Aldi was closed and I knew the grocery store would be too pricey for the nuts, EVOO and cheese that I needed.

Act II
But all good things must come to an end.  A few days passed (almost a week to be honest with you) and I knew it was time to get cracking at the pesto. I was able to make it to Aldi and get the ingredients that I needed. This pesto making sure is expensive!!!

I had not eaten dinner and everyone else in the house was doing their own thing, so I cooked up some pasta and added my sister's pesto. I thought it was appropriate since I was actually making my own. I always think that someone else's taste better. It sure was good!!!

I followed the recipe exactly on the first batch of pesto, but quickly ran out of ingredients.  Just another excuse to drag this project out another day.

I made my grocery store run after work and picked up MORE of the ingredients, but this time I did not follow the recipe as closely.  I had WAYYY to much basil left and not nearly enough nuts and cheese.  I adapted and finally, the end was in sight.  As I was bottling the last batch up, my husband comes into the kitchen with a grin and says "aren't you glad that I pulled the rest of the basil out of the ground for you today?"  I thought I was going to loose it. He started laughing and rolled his eyes......good - he was just kidding.

I used the Starbucks Frappuccino bottles that I had saved and they held alot of pesto.  I ended up with four jars, as well as one jelly jar and one ice cube tray which is going into the freezer and then placed in ziploc bags....and I STILL had basil left.

On a side note, I could not find the icecube trays at the dollar store.  I went out to lunch with my work/coupon/good friend and she opened the back of her car.  What did she have but bags of icecube trays - I almost flipped out - "Where did you get those....what are you going to do with those, etc." I think I may have scared her a little.  Someone actually excited over icecube trays?  Really? She gave me one (of course offered to give me more, but I only needed one) and I was trilled!!!

Over a week later and I FINALLY have pesto....and enough to share.  Life is good and my house reeks of garlic.  No vampires for us on Halloween!!!

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