It’s a Pesto Kind of Day

It’s a pesto kind of day. Actually it started last night with severe storm warnings. We were lucky and just got very heavy rain and high winds that lasted about thirty minutes and then the storm ended quickly. The morning was still windy but sunny. Looking over the vegetable and herb gardens, Mother Nature didn’t do much harm…thank goodness. Leaves were twisted and tall herbs were laying down on the ground but the rest of the gardens were fine. Two of the basil plants were down on the ground and that was quickly repaired with staking.

The basil has grown well. I have sprayed with soapy water to keep insects off and the majority of the leaves are huge. Then I spotted the first Japanese beetle. I would have taken a photo of one of the villains of my gardens but my first instincts took over and I squished it. So much for his one moment of fame. Tomorrow the traps go out or his photo stand ins will be perched on every leaf…munching and waiting for their instant of fame.

One way to prevent the basil leaves from looking like they had been hit by buckshot is to pick, pick, pick. Once you have a bowl of beautiful of basil leaves,  there are many wonderful ways to make use of them. One of my favorites is pesto.

A bowl of fresh-cut basil leaves

Pesto is really easy. Basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. That’s the usual ingredients. If you look on the web for pesto recipes you will find recipes using different herbs, nuts, oils and cheeses. I think that pesto is like a blank canvas…paint your own picture using what you have on hand.

Tomato and mozzarella sandwich with pesto vinaigrette

Today I made a pesto vinaigrette to dress grilled vegetables, a tomato and mozzarella salad, and as a sauce for sirloin tips that I grilled.

Tomato and mozzarella sandwich with grilled zucchini and roasted red peppers

There is no exact recipe for what I prepared today. It was not a true pesto in that I didn’t use any nuts. My vinaigrette used a handful of large fresh basil leaves, one large clove of garlic, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, one half of a squeezed lime, a tablespoon of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper ¬†which I then zapped in my mini processor. Fast, simple and great flavor for a summer meal.

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About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
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20 Responses to It’s a Pesto Kind of Day

  1. Judy says:

    That tomato and mozzarella sandwich looks delish:) I’ll have make that one day for lunch since I have lots of basil growing in my garden. The grilled vegetables look very tempting. Are the peppers and zucchini from your garden?

  2. ambrosiana says:

    Very smart use of pesto! What you said about pesto being like a canvas is true: there are different kinds of pesto in Italy. Therefore in any given region, pesto is made using different ingredients depending on what products are available. In Sicily, for example they use pistachios or tomatoes i some recipes. The word pesto comes from pressing ingredients by using a “pestle” against the mortar to make the sauce.

  3. Carol says:

    The tomato and mozzarella sandwich looks so fresh and so good, especially with the pesto vinaigrette! Your basil is so vibrant, glad you didn’t have much damage.

  4. I never use nuts in my pesto. I don’t like pine nuts, so I just use olive oil, salt, pepper, romano, arugula and basil. This spread looks wonderful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Greg, Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. I just had to say that. I agree that you don’t need to put nuts in pesto. It can sometimes make a dish too rich. I do love pine nuts though and keep them in my freezer in small jars. I love to toast them and add to cooked orzo since they are about the same size.

  5. I’m glad Mother Nature didn’t do too much harm to your garden and you were able to quickly turn the basil into a delicious homemade pesto. I don’t normally use pine nuts because where I live they aren’t very fresh in our supermarket. I love homemade vinaigrettes too and i will definitely try some basil in mine next time. Sounds delicious and healthy.
    I’ll be visiting again soon. Sam

  6. Jerry says:

    I have bookmarked your blog and will be back – I love your area of the US although we just don’t get there as often as I would like.

    I have started to grow my basil in pots right in front of the house. It’s an odd spot to see huge ceramic post of herbs but I have had no bug problems at all since the basil has been removed from the garden and the other foliage. An unintended bonus is that visitors get a lovely herb scent in the air as they come up to the porch.

    Pesto is such a taste of summer to me. I always make far more than I need, put it in small plastic containers, add a thin layer of olive oil and freeze it to enjoy all year long. I don’t often use it as a sauce for pasta though – more like you as an ingredient for many other dishes.

  7. Maggie says:

    Delicious , my mouth is watering from just looking at your photographs.
    I wish that my basil grew leaves as big as yours! Maggie

  8. Some critter is eating my basil plants so I’m happy to read how you take care of it. Soapy spray is quick and easy. Thanks. Basil pesto is one of the true treats of summer and your lovely salad looks delicious.

  9. karencooking says:

    I love basil. I don’t have a good spot for a garden, but next year I might try some on the deck in containers (which is how I grow tomatoes). I feel for you with the Japanese beetles. They usually show up here around Fourth of July, but I have not seen one yet . . . not sure what happened, but I don’t miss them!

  10. In the winter, when I can’t find enough basil to make a traditional pesto, I toss in some frozen peas into the food processor along with the usual olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan. By the time the pasta is done cooking, the peas are thawed just enough for a quick whirl in the processor. The pea/basil pesto is sweet and creamy..try it and let me know if it works for you!

  11. I love pesto. It is one of my favorites. I love this idea of a tomato and mozzarella sandwich.

  12. Bonnie says:

    Karen,
    I love pesto. Basil is one of my favorite garden herbs.
    I love your blog. I am excited to go through your archives and look forward to your new posts.

  13. This nut-free pesto is a great companion to grilled veggies and I love your tomato-mozzarella sandwich :-)

  14. Elisa says:

    I love your blog Karen. I love Basil as well. It grows really well in my tiny garden. Cheers!

  15. rosecreams says:

    I have had a recent grasshopper infestation that is trying to take over mine. I will try your tip. The weather broke one of my plants (lots of storms recently ) but I’ve had a great crop so far this year. I love a good basil and tomato sandwich. Nothing says summer like tomato sandwiches for me.
    I’ll check back with your blog. Thanks! Kellie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kellie, I’m sorry to hear about storms and grasshoppers in your garden. Mother Nature can be cruel sometimes. Grasshoppers are hard to control. You might want to consider row covers or neem. You could also check with your agriculture extension service for your area.

  16. magnoliahugger says:

    Hi Karen! I’m loving the blog, and I’m happy to see a post about pesto. I’m growing some purple basil, and you reminded me that I promised a friend some purple pesto. I can’t wait to experiment with making it – thanks for the inspiration!

  17. strictlyfood says:

    I love your presentation with the tomato and mozzarella sandwich! Looks delicious.

  18. I love Pesto! The pictures are very well done. I have enjoyed reading several of your posts. Thank you for sharing!

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