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