Aug 12

Garden Goodness

The basil in my garden is growing really, really well so I wanted to use it in something where it would highlight the flavor of the basil and use a bunch of it. I had already decided to make a quiche and thought at first it would be nice to add basil to that, but cooking would have taken away the fresh taste I was looking for, so, instead, I decided to make a plain quiche (basically eggs, Neufchatel cheese, salt, pepper, and a little milk) and make a pesto to serve on top of the quiche.

I’ve never made pesto before so I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing, but I know the basic ingredients involved and I’ve watched others make it. I figured I could handle it. Of course, as with most plans there was a catch. A traditional basil pesto includes:

  • basil
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese, and
  • pine nuts.

Pesto in the RawOf those I had… Well, the basil, and that was it. My friends (unknowingly) helped out when they sent me home with some (garden-fresh!) garlic the next day and a trip to the store solved the issue of the olive oil. I’m on a tight budget so I couldn’t justify the pine nuts (I’d never use them all) and I didn’t bother getting cheese because I was under the impression I had “a little bit left” from a previous cooking endeavor (I was wrong).

So, I busted out the food processor and improvised.

  1. First in the pool: about 4 cloves of garlic
  2. pulse-pulse-pulse!
  3. Second: salt, pepper, and a generous palm-full of blanched, sliced almonds from my pantry (a substitution for the pine nuts)
  4. pulse-pulse-pulse!
  5. Third: a bajillion basil leaves (it may have been slightly less than a bajillion) and about a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
  6. pulse-pulse-pulse!

Basil Almond PestoI tasted the paste at this point and added a little more salt and pepper, then left the processor going while I added the olive oil in a thin stream. I basically stopped when I liked the thickness, texture, and taste. I was very pleased with the results. It took all of my willpower not to eat that stuff with a spoon! (I managed it, but just barely). I’ve been eating it with a slice of quiche as my mid-morning snack all week and already thinking about making more!

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