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Do you like basil? Then you will love pesto

Angelia Hensley, Community Contributor • Oct 24, 2018 at 10:22 AM

Basil is a warm-weather, fragrant herb that tastes great in Italian dishes as well as homemade pesto. You can tell how much we love basil by the picture of the tubs on my back deck. Every time I walk by the tubs, I gently brush my hand across the leaves, which will immediately fill the air with the aromatic, sweet, peppery smell of basil. These plants in the tubs were grown by seed, but I love picking up a plant or two at nurseries, and I am always thrilled to find small pots of basil in the produce section of the grocery store throughout the year so that I can grow them indoors near a window.

The Farmers’ Almanac recommends the following:

To get a head start, start the seeds indoors six weeks before the last spring frost.

To plant outside, wait until the soil is at least 50 degrees — preferably around 70 degrees for best growth. Don’t rush basil. Without heat, the plant won’t grow.

Basil needs to be in a location that gets six to eight hours of full sun daily; soil should be moist and well-drained.

Plant seeds/seedlings about one-quarter inch deep and 10 to 12 inches apart. They should grow to about 12 to 24 inches in height. For smaller plants, plant farther apart (about 16 to 24 inches).

During the dry periods in summer, water the plants freely.

Remember to pinch off the flower heads as soon as they appear to make sure that the leaves will continue growing.

For more pesto recipes, check out the article “You Can Make Pesto Out of (Almost) Anything,” from the Farmers’ Almanac.  

Pesto

Ingredients:

½ cup pine nuts

3 cups loosely packed sweet basil leaves (no stems)

Salt and pepper to taste

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 garlic cloves, halved

½ to 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

½ to 1 cup olive oil

Directions:

Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat then set aside.

Add all the other ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until a medium texture is achieved. Do not over-pulse it.

Drizzle olive oil until a wet mince is achieved. Add the pine nuts and pulse a few times.

The pesto will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. To store, cover completely with plastic wrap. Push the wrap down until it is covering the pesto and keeping air from touching it.

We enjoy a simple meal of pesto tossed in spaghetti or linguini noodles — quick and easy! It is also delicious served on garlic bread, toast, or simply made into a sandwich.

Mount Carmel’s Angelia Hensley is a community contributor for the Kingsport Times News.

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