We love fresh produce from our suburban food farm, especially this family favourite; Basil Pesto!
As one of our goals was to teach Ben (our teenage son) to cook meals, we thought it would be a good idea if Ben had a go at making it this time around.
As I am the main gardener around here, I planted this fine specimen in early spring last year. All I do is scatter last years seeds on the surface of the soil, and lightly spread a 2 mm layer of potting mix on top. Basil seeds take ages to germinate, so you just have to be a bit patient, but grow they will. I will be collecting these seeds again this year. Wait for them to dry out and pull off the stalk and store in a brown paper bag or sealed glass jar until spring.
Enough about growing, on with the basil pesto!
Even though we practice organic principles, nevertheless, we always wash our produce. You never know what bird might have dropped on it over the growing season. You can see here that Ben is rinsing off the leaves. As he is a newbie, I will let him off for not putting the plug in the sink to save water!
Once the leave are all clean and spun dry, Ben moved over to the food processor.
Once he managed to get all the leaves into the bowl with a chopping blade in place, he moved on to the cheese! About two years ago, I made some deliciously sharp Romano cheese which was perfect for this Basil pesto. I still had a little bit left that he could use.
He did a great job, and didn’t catch his knuckles. The aroma of the cheese was mouth-watering, to say the least. Into the food processor bowl it goes.
If you processed this now, it would be very dry, and not form a paste. To smooth things out you need two classic ingredients. Cashew nuts and Olive oil. About a cup of nuts and half a cup of olive oil.
Now I realise that cashews are grown in the tropics, and not very local, however I have read that you can substitute macadamia nuts if you are looking for that Aussie twist. The olive oil is from a local producer and tastes heavenly.
Ben then ground in some sea salt and black pepper for flavour and then pulsed the lot until it turned into a paste. He then tasted it, then put a bit on a cracker for me to taste. It was a bit dry so he added more olive oil, which did the trick. I normally add a couple of fat, home-grown garlic cloves, but Ben left these out for his recipe.
So Ben, what did it taste like?
A big thumbs up! Kim put it into containers, froze half and put some into the fridge until dinner time.
I cooked up some fettuccine and Ben stirred in his special Basil pesto. He told me that it was delicious.
So there you go. If my fourteen year old son can make it, you certainly can! All you have to do is grow some basil.
Do you have any variations on Ben’s recipe? He would love to learn more so he can give it a try next time. There are still plenty of leaves on the basil bushes.