Archive for the ‘herbs’ Category

IMG_3167This year I have lots of basil growing in the garden. Greek, Italian, African, Asian, big leaf, small leaf, curly, not curly. There are so many varieties of basil, but one thing for sure they all make great pesto. The best way to preserve the pesto is by freezing it either in ice cube trays, zip lock bags or small plastic containers. The basil can be blanched before processing, but for this batch I decided to puree the fresh leaves without blanching.

The basil in the picture above came from Herbivor Farm in Ottawa. Beautiful aroma, perfect leaves and best of all it’s organic.

The basil was extremely clean and dry so I separated all the leaves from the stems which I freeze separately in zip lock bags to use when I make stock or add a couple of stems to tea.

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For this batch instead of garlic I used garlic scapes. Not as potent as garlic , they have a mellower, tamer kind of taste.

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Start off with the scapes, when blended thoroughly add the basil and process it for a minute or so.

I don’t like to freeze finished pesto; the nuts & cheese tend to get rancid in the freezer after a few weeks. However, the puree of fresh basil keeps beautifully green in the freezer.

Sometimes I even leave out the garlic and just puree the basil alone.

I add the nuts, cheese, and additional olive oil to my basil just before using it.

Parsley and other herbs like, verbena, oregano (very small amount) or other favorite herbs can also be added to give your pesto more aroma.  I like to try different nuts and have also added shelled hemp seeds (my favorite) .

I like to use a lot of garlic, plenty of olive oil, and sometimes make a batch with some jalapeño or serrano pepper.

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IMG_3177IMG_3181Top the containers with olive oil and place them in the freezer.

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basil pesto

If you have lots of basil and are not using it to flavor jars of tomato sauce, now is the time to cut all the leaves and make some pesto.

Please keep all the stems. Wash and dry them well before putting them in ziplock bags for freezing. They are perfect for when you make broth or to add extra flavor to tomato sauce.

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ingredients

olive oil (hemp oil)

basil leaves (washed and dried)

few cloves of garlic

walnuts (pine nuts, hemp seeds or pistachio nuts)

salt and pepper to taste

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Mix everything in a food processor

Fill small containers leaving headroom for expansion

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arugula pesto

With temperatures still the high 20’s, the last thing we want to think about is the end of summer. However, when I take a look at my garden that is not as green as a few weeks ago, I feel the end is near.

We can’t preserve the summer heat for later use, but a short visit to your local market will tempt you to preserve just about everything you see. From tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, fruits, and every herb imaginable, you can be preserving the whole month of September. However, if you are not an avid canner or preserver, take baby steps and start small. You will definitely enjoy your hard work later during the year when you are mixing arugula pesto to your penne, gnocchis or spaghetti.

There are hundreds of ways to make pesto. Use your imagination and pick herbs and ingredients you enjoy. In this recipe I used arugula instead of basil. You can also use both, but I wanted the taste and smell of arugula to dominate the dish.

We are so lucky to have fresh baby arugula leaves available all year. But the taste from locally grown plants and of course your garden is something special. The older the arugula plant is the stronger the flavor. I prefer the taste of the young leaves. I find the older leaves are too bitter.

A few cloves of fresh garlic

Hemp is a great alternative to pine nuts or walnuts

Mix everything together in a food processor and fill your containers leaving some headroom for expansion. When I make pesto to use right away, I add parmesan cheese. But if I make a batch for freezing I leave out the cheese and add it fresh when it’s defrosted.

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ingredients

olive oil (hemp oil)

2 cups arugula leaves (washed and dried)

3 garlic cloves

1/3 cup hemp seeds (pine nuts, pine nuts or pistachio nuts)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

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Mix everything in a food processor

Fill small containers leaving headroom for expansion

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time for pesto


When the basil and parsley are this big in the garden, it’s definitely time to make pesto.

Everyone in my family makes enough pesto to last the winter. This year, because the kids are all on their own, they decided to join the pesto making ritual. So of course we made a few batches of different kinds.

Basil pesto, parsley pesto, basil and parsley pesto, etc…..

Here is a very basic and simple recipe.

Since pesto is always made to taste based on the ingredients at hand,  adjust the ingredients to your taste. Most pesto recipes call for Parmesan cheese, we sometimes use Romano which has a stronger flavor.

If you want to freeze the pesto you make, omit the cheese (it doesn’t freeze well). Line an ice cube tray with plastic wrap, and fill each pocket with the pesto. Freeze and then remove from the ice tray and store in a freezer bag. When you want to use, defrost and add in grated Parmesan or Romano.

If you can get a hold of individual small plastic containers, fill a bunch of them and freeze.

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Basil and Parsley Pesto

ingredients

3 cups basil leaves, loosely packed

1 cup parsley leaves, loosely packed

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp chopped fresh garlic (4 – 6 cloves)

1 cup toasted pine nuts (walnuts or hemp seeds)

optional 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 or 3 lemons)

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper or to taste

1 tsp salt or to taste

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Add oil, lemon, garlic, salt, pepper to the blender

Blend until smooth

Keep the blender running on low, add the parsley and basil a handful at a time, blending coarsely

Add pine nuts 1/4 cup at a time, and blend. Add more olive oil & lemon if it gets too thick to blend well. Taste and blend in more salt and pepper if you like.

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Helpful Pesto Hints

Fresh herbs, especially basil, don’t keep well – the least time between picking and pestoing, the better

Pine nuts can be expensive, but much cheaper walnuts or hemp work well in pesto. 

To freeze pesto, coat with a little oil to preserve the color, or freeze in a vacuum sealed freezer bag.

When you add pesto to hot pasta, oil the pasta first, or thin the pesto with some of the cooking water.

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A little more information on HEMP SEEDS.

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