Mid September – the height of harvest season – and there’s a frost warning, a good two weeks earlier than usual. We, and the garden, may wake up to 32 degrees tomorrow morning, which means I have a lot to do! One of the vulnerable crops which will not survive a frigid night is basil. So, pesto production it is.
One that will actually become tastier with a frost is kale. With more than plenty of it to take us into early winter, I harvested some now as well to partner with the basil in the pesto.
Basil-Kale Pesto (or substitute other fresh green leaves)
- 2 cups fresh basil and kale leaves, washed, dried and torn into small pieces
- 3 medium garlic cloves (or garlic scapes, earlier in the season)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or a combination)
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a beautiful green paste. You can adjust the flavor with salt and pepper, and the consistency with a bit more olive oil, if needed.
Fill small glass jars with pesto. They’ll do well in the refrigerator for a week or so, and they’ll keep throughout the winter in the freezer. Just be sure to give the pesto enough space in the jar to expand when it freezes. If you are a minimal pesto eater, you can freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer the pesto cubes into plastic bags, and return to the freezer for use in soups and sauces when you need a shot of summery green.
Looking for a brighter, longer-lasting green? Then blanch* your basil leaves for a quick moment – no more than 5-6 seconds – before putting them into the food processor.
* How to blanch? Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil (salted or not, as you wish) and fill a large bowl or a plugged-up sink with ice water. Once at a full boil, drop the basil leaves into the water, count to 5 seconds and remove them with a slotted spoon. Drop them immediately into the ice water. Continue on with pesto making instructions using this basil. You’ll be treated to a brighter and lasting colored pesto.