This was the first year ever that my Basil hasn’t been overcome by hoodlum whiteflies. Maybe it was down to the careful nurturing they received early in life. I bought my plants from Alan of Greenfields and Cubslough Farm, a chemical-free grower of herbs and vegetables. Or maybe it was something to do with their planting position in the polytunnel, about two foot away from fellow herb Borage. Otherwise known as Star-flower, Borage attracts predatory insects and distracts pests such as whitefly. A companion plant extraordinaire. Incidentally, my Basil is flanked by tomato plants which are positively heaving with fruit. Apparently this can also be attributed to companion planting. Basil is said to improve cropping and enhance the flavour of tomatoes.
Anyhow, my lovely lush Basil was showing signs of flowering so I decided to pick what I could and make some pesto.
I used the following ingredients:
2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves,
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves,
50g freshly grated cheese – I used Ossau-Iraty but Parmesan is the usual choice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a food processor I blitzed the basil with the pine nuts (you could use walnuts if you fancy), then added the garlic and pulsed a few times more. Next I poured in the olive oil slowly while the food processor was running. After stopping a few times to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula I then added the grated cheese and processed again until it was the right consistency. I used Ossau-Iraty- a medium-soft, French cheese made from sheep milk but Italian hard cheeses such as Parmesan-Reggiano or Pecorino* Romano are more typically used. Finally a pinch of salt, a twist of freshly ground black pepper and….hey pesto! Homemade Basil pesto- probably the easiest, tastiest way to use up your basil before it goes to seed.
I scooped it into a screwtop top jar to store in the fridge and in a day or so all the flavors will be nicely combined. I look forward to enjoying it on pasta. It should last at least a week in the fridge.
NOTE: If you want to freeze your homemade pesto, leave out the cheese. When you want to use, defrost and add in the cheese.
*also made from sheep milk