Friday, 22 January 2010


I seem to struggle with some aspects of gardening (like spacing and actually facilitating the survival of some plants) but one thing that seems to thrive under my care is basil. Thank goodness then that we all love it. Well not quite all but Minnie will eat a leaf straight from the plant and was a wonderful assistant in out recent pesto making session.

I was a very luck girl last birthday and received the wonderful Stephanie Alexander's 'Kitchen Garden Companion.' It really is a fantastic book for anyone that grows and cooks. I use it often, with either our own produce or in season veg from our local farmer. A cannot recommend it enough.

So thank you Stephanie for this great pesto recipe. We cut a big basket of basil from the garden and made a double batch of this sauce/condiment. We ate it simply stirred through pasta, made into petso butter, served with thick pork cutlets and also in my pasta sauce recipe (more of an 'idea' than a recipe) that I have added at the end.

(from Stephanie Alexander's 'Kitchen Garden Companion')
1 cup firmly packed basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to seal
1/4 pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
sea salt
60 Parmesan cheese, grated

Put basil leaves, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and salt in a blender or food processor and blend/whizz/process until smooth. Stop the machine a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. When evenly blended, scrape the paste into a bowl and stir in cheese (we actually added the cheese to the blender at the last minute and gave it a quick whizz - saves dirtying another bowl).

Spoon pesto into a clean glass jar. Push down with a spoon to ensure there are no air pockets. Cover top with the remaining olive oil (so the pesto will not brown). Store in the fridge.

(Stephanie does not indicate how long you can keep it for but we had ours for about 5 days and it was fine, as long as you keep out any air pockets and cover with olive oil).

My Pesto Cream Pasta Sauce
In frying pan cook several rashes of bacon over medium heat until starting to brown, add a couple of hand fulls of cherry tomatoes, cook until they start to split, reduce heat. Add a few big spoons of pesto, and stir through a few spoons of cream. Heat gently until combined. Serve on pasta of your choice.


Hope's Mama said...

Would you believe I got this book for my last birthday, too!
My tomato plants have been decimated by the possums this year. Fuck it. And the basil died. So the farmers market stuff will have to do I guess!

Kate said...

I got the book for christmas :-) Its definately a winner...and your pesto looks yum!

sewfunky said...

I am so envious that you have that book - it's been on my wish list for a couple of months now! :)

I must do something with all my basil - that pesto looks divine!

ingrid said...

Oh my, that is the most perfect shade of green!

by marie-nicole said...

Looks divine... nice work! Love the jar too.

Stephanie's Cook's Companion is amongst one of our many cookbooks and is often referred to... it's great having a reference book like that at hand.

sophie said...

That pesto looks amazing Rach, the colour is beautiful.

Michelle said...

Looks so delicious! Our basil is thriving too at the moment. I love brushing past the plants and inhaling it's lovely scent.

My laptop is resting on Stephanie's book as I type, it's always open on the kitchen table.

Jo said...

That looks really yummy Rach. Thanks for the 2 recipes. xx

Jessica said...

I struggle a bunch with gardening as well--I do love pesto though and consider it a success when I have enough basil to make it!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

That's a beautiful looking pesto. What variety of basil did you grow?

Since you are using homegrown ingredients, would you like to enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup this month? Full Details at

Angie said...


Pesto freezes brilliantly so make lots now, it is so good to pull out of the freezer mid-winter.

I just freeze it in glass jars, leave a gap at the top for expansion and I pour some extra olive oil over the top to prevent it from oxidising.

It seems a bit excessive given the price of good parmesan and pine nuts but just a dollop of pesto on a winter minestrone soup makes it all worth while! Which reminds me I keep the parmesan crusts in a bag in the freezer to add to Stephanie's minestrone recipe....delicious!

Selina said...

thanks Ive taken a copy of this, I looove basil but have never made my own pesto, yummo