The word “pesto” is a derivation of the Italian word for “pounded” as it used to be made in a mortar and pestle, although most people now use a blender or food processor. Basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs. The type commonly used for its flavor is Sweet Basil (or Genovese basil). There is also Thai basil, lemon basil, and holy basil used in Asian dishes. Basil is an annual in our region, so it has to be replanted each year.
Basil also has many health benefits. It contains several vitamins, minerals, and a range of antioxidants.
Basil is most commonly used in fresh recipes. As a dried herb, it loses most of its flavor. You can use basil in Italian cuisine in Pesto, on tomato salad with mozzarella. I also use mine mixed with warm heirloom potatoes as a quick version of healthy potato salad.
BASIC BASIL PESTO + PESTO POTATO SALAD
2 + cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
5 cups (20g) loosely-packed basil leaves
5 tablespoons (75ml) best-quality olive oil
2 ounces (60g) grated Parmesan cheese (I skipped cheese in mine)
1/4 cup (30g) pine nuts, walnuts, or shelled pistachios, very lightly toasted
I top the jar before closing with olive oil to slow down oxidation.
Fresh pesto stores in the fridge for about a week, but until the next season in the freezer.
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