Bounty

My garden is thriving. Mostly.

For the first year ever, my tomatoes are not overtaking the garden, which kind of saddens me, because I have only just mastered the art of tomato sauce. And also, for the first year ever, I have green peppers and red peppers. Despite years of trying, I have never been able to grow peppers. Sure, I have grown beautiful, healthy, gorgeous pepper PLANTS, all completely devoid of fruit. (Possibly gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) But I have yet to actually get peppers until this summer.

Potatoes, squash, herbs — they all seem to be doing well.

So today, I decided it was time for pesto. My basil plants are flowering, and in past years due to procrastination and/or neglect I have actually not had as big a crop as I should have because I let the plants go to seed or get nipped by frost. But not this year — oh no. We love our pesto around here, and since it’s readily frozen, it’s perfect for us and our budding family, which will need quick dinners while we settle in with our daughter.

So last week I bought about $20 worth of parmesan. Two decent-sized chunks. And two piddly bags of pine nuts for about $12. One of the downfalls of making pesto is the cost — but it doesn’t take much to make a meal, and with the basil coming from the garden for free, you actually get decent value for your money.

I went out this morning with scissors and my colander. I needed 4 cups of packed leaves, so I thought I will start trimming off full branches, bring them in and wash them, and come back and get more as I need them.

I have about 10 basil plants, all nice and healthy, so I was pretty confident I’d get a couple of batches of pesto this year from our garden. Normally I can get two, maybe 3 batches a year, if I trim judiciously and allow more branches and leaves to sprout as the summer winds down. I started with the plant closest to the sun, which was the tallest, and began trimming, leaving young branches and leaves to get more sun.

I came in with this (click any photo to embiggen):

basil 1

basil 2

Note the sous chef:

basil 5

(He’s VERY helpful.)

I started trimming off the leaves into a sink full of cold water, to wash the leaves off. And ended up with well over 8 CUPS of leaves.

Eight cups. EIGHT. From one single, solitary plant. And we have something like 10 plants out there.

Good doG. We’re going to have enough fresh basil for… well, I have no reasonable estimation, because I have no idea how we are ever going to use that much basil.

Pesto is not a big yield cooking day. Two hours and a fair few dirty dishes later, my house smells like an Italian restaurant. And I ended up with more than 4 cups of pesto. That’s 8 huge pots of chicken pesto pasta, or 8 meals for the two of us and a crazy number of lunches from the leftovers.

basil 6

But those will be some delicious meals. There’s nothing like the taste of fresh pesto, especially from your own garden.

basil 7

10 thoughts on “Bounty

  1. Oh wow, that looks amazing! Now I wish I’d planted basil this year. I hear you on the exorbitant price of pine nuts – they are so yummy lightly toasted. It’s one of my favourite snacks, toasted pine nuts. We’ve also got lots of peppers this year, and we just had our first eggplant on the weekend. We also picked a huge cucumber that had, unbeknownst to us, grown on the other side of the fence (not sure why our neighbours didn’t pick it). It’s about the size & circumference of a 750ml wine bottle. We’re hoping it’s going to taste good.

  2. Pine nuts are SO delish… and so expensive! I also love pecans and they are also expensive… seems I strike out in the nut department!

    I wanted to do cucumbers but I wasn’t prepared to put up any fences or anything this year for them to climb so I surrendered and passed on them. But we’ve been eating a lot of cucumber salad so now I wish I had taken the time!

  3. Ok, now I’m hungry. I just got home from work (10:15pm) and after reading this post, I want some pesto linguine. I think that might be too much work this late at night so I will settle for a glass of milk instead.

    Enjoy all your bounty from your garden. It always tastes better when you grow it yourself.

  4. Yummy, it looks wonderful. I only made it once and it was not very good. Any chance of posting a receipe?

    We actually put in a garden this year and have had our first cucumber, very yummy. We have clay soil so we tend to run a bit late here. I can’t wait for the beans. MMMM

  5. If you need help with using up your basil, we’ll take some! Ours is not doing so well this year.

  6. Yummmy – I’ve been making pesto as well, but just by the dailey batch. I never though to freeze it… ingenious! Actually, someone told me once to freeze it in icecube trays so you can use bits at a time (just like fresh baby food. Although you wouldn’t want them to ge mixed up. tat would be one nasty diaper.)

    Nicky

  7. Yes, I was recently advised by Heather that you could chop and freeze the basil — she and her husband do that all the time. So… looks like I will have some chopping and freezing little ice cubes of basil-y goodness in my future!

    We don’t use it in much — possibly I’m going to have to broaden my recipe repertoire. Pasta sauce, maybe eggs… ?

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