First Harvest

Thankfully, the garden survived the high temps while we were gone over the weekend.  In fact, I think it flourished with the 90º temps, thanks to the good soaking I gave it before we left.  The straw bales seem to be doing a good job keeping the tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchinis hydrated. I’ll try to get a picture in the future, but these were not from the straw bale part of the garden.

The foods from my first harvest were from the original garden bed that came with the house and some containers of herbs.

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Sugar snap peas, larger than expected.  Rex thought they were delicious and scarfed one down before they made it into the house.

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Enough basil to make pesto for dinner.  Rex loved pulling the leaves and was very sad when we were done picking.  I washed up the basil and then threw it into the food processor with some parmesan cheese, a few walnuts, lots of garlic, and some salt. I blended it up while drizzling grapeseed oil in until it looked about right and p(r)esto!

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I served the pesto up on some organic pasta from Costco (I don’t remember what this shape is called) with a side of asparagus.  Rex had three helpings of pasta in addition to his asparagus!  I’m hoping my basil plant will continue to flourish and there will be many more pesto dinners in our future.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the mint that was picked with the basil. It became something else entirely.

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Homemade Pesto

It occurred to me late last night as I pondered what to do with the abundance of basil sitting in my kitchen window that pesto is made from basil.  I know, I know… It blows the mind!  (Maybe just my mind.  It was rather late…) So, I wandered the internet and read up on pesto.  There is an abundance of recipes for homemade pesto from the quick and easy to the way your grandmother made it.  Then I did what I always do, I sort of winged it.

Half-Assed Pesto Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 3 – 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 cup toasted almonds (or your nut of choice *snicker*)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (I used an Italian mixture, pre-shredded)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Turn the oven to 450 degrees.  Put the almonds in to toast for 10 minutes.

Wash your basil.  Mine came directly from the plants mere minutes before being turned into pesto-y goodness.

Chop the basil and garlic.*  Once the basil and garlic are chopped, integrate the cheese by chopping it into the mixture.

Once you have integrated the cheese, put it in a bowl and add a the lemon juice and olive oil until you’re happy with the texture.

At this point it looks pretty good.  And then… You remember the almonds in the oven.  Remove the lovely toasted almonds from the oven.

Without burning yourself, chop them to bits and then mix them into the pesto.

And Voila!  You have homemade pesto.  Now, the question is, what to do with it? (Other than eat it straight out of the bowl, that is.) For the answer to that, you’ll just have to come back tomorrow…

*(This is where I need to take a bit of a side trip.  I know many people use blenders, food processors, etc. to mix their pesto.  I decided to take a variation on the method employed by 101Cookbooks and used my Pampered Chef Food Chopper.  If you don’t have one of these, you need one.  Forget the Slap Chop, it’s a piece of crap.  But this thing gets more action in our kitchen than any other tool, even the KitchenAid mixer.  Trust me, this is the best $30 you’ll ever spend.  I think that doing this by hand instead of pulverizing the crap out of it keeps the flavors a little more separate.  Plus I like that it has a bit more texture.  Just try it, if you don’t like it you can always throw it in the blender. /End rant)