Monday, November 1, 2010


Greek Column Basil

The tag which came with this plant just said Sweet Basil.  I love this basil because I never had to cut it back due to flowering.  It just kept growning and never went to seed.  I did some research and found that this basil never flowers or goes to seed.  It is propagated by taking cuttings.  I decided to bring it inside and see if I can keep it going through the dark Michigan days in Novemeber and December. 

Even though we live in the northern latitudes, our weather is moderated in the spring and the fall by the big body of water outside our windows. Lake Michigan keeps us from too early spring and lengthens the fall growing season. I think I have stretched the fall growing season to its limits so I am using my basil to make my pesto to freeze for the winter.

Varigated Column Basil

I was not too fond of pesto until I had a very thin crust pizza with a ricotta cheese pesto mixture used for the sauce. It was love at first bite. This Pesto For The Winter will be showing up in a blog someday for a pizza with pesto ricotta sauce.

Greek Column Basil outside.  Last night it dropped down to the low 30°'s.

As soon as basil’s leaves are crushed they start to turn an unpleasant brown just like avacados turn yuk brown. It is a reaction to the air that makes this discoloration. According to a Gourmet article, adding 1/2-cup parsley to every 2-cups basil will make the green color darken and help with the brown problem. Keeping the pesto under a cover of oil when storing helps also. Another tip from a Gourmet article suggest adding some yogurt to pesto, about 1 part yogurt to 8 parts pesto is rumored to help. Making pesto with spinach seems to eliminate the problem completely.

Basil ready to freeze or eat.

The last day of the Grand Haven Farmer's Market was Saturday; however, Holland and Muskegon markets are open much longer into the fall.  Holland's market doesn't close until after St. Nicholas Day, December 6th.  To make my pesto, I went to the market on Wednesday to see Jobey, my pepper lady, and get some of her gorgeous garlic.  She wanted a new picture taken when she wasn't all bundled up.  I took this picture during our horrible wind storm this week.


Jobey's gorgeous garlic.


4 c fresh basil leaves or 3 c spinach, stems removed, and 1 ½ c basil leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled
½ c olive oil, divided
1 c toasted pine nuts or ¾ c walnuts
½ c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 T salt or to taste (I use less)
Pepper to taste
Ingredients:  Basil, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, salt and pepper.  I bought my Parmesan cheese from The Cheese Lady in Muskegon.

In bowl of food processor, combine basil leaves, garlic and half the olive oil; process until mixture becomes a paste. Add the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese; blend in the remaining olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store in covered container with a little olive oil on top of the pesto. This will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks.  I put the pesto into a quart-sized freezer bag, press it flat and freeze.  When I want to use it, because I pressed it flat, I just break off the amount I need rather than thawing the whole bag.

To pull leaves off  start at the top and slide fingers along to the stem ends.  Leaves come right off. 

Jobey's garlic cloves are so big I processed them in the food processor before I add other ingredients.

Garlic chopped.

Add basil leaves and half the olive oil.

Process until the mixture becomes a paste.

Add pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Pesto with cheese and nuts processed into it.

Add the rest of the olive oil and process.

Immediately package so the color in the basil does not oxidate and turn brown.  If not freezing, put into a container and cover pesto with a coat of oil to prevent the air from getting to the pesto. 

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