Healthy, Pasta, Salads

Backyard basil pesto a fresh blast of summer

June 17, 2015

OK, it may sound so nineties, but pesto remains one of summer’s tastiest and most versatile condiments. Made fast with homegrown basil, mint, spinach or other seasonal green stuff, it’s useful spread on sandwiches, drizzled in soup, tossed in pasta or draped between thick slices of tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. By now – mid-June – the basil many of us planted this spring is high, lush and screaming to be harvested. And f you live in a hot climate like I do, the leaves you pick today will quickly replenish throughout the summer, because basil is an herb that likes to be used.

Pesto how-to:

Packaged pesto is pricy, so it’s worth making it at home, and putting the surplus up in small freezer bags. (That’s always worked better for me than ice trays.)

In a blender or food processor, combine 2 cups cleaned and dried basil leaves with ¼ cup pine nuts, walnuts or slivered almonds and 1 large garlic clove, minced. Toss in some lemon zest and juice for extra flavor. As the mixture is pureeing, slowly add 2/3 cup olive oil and a little salt to taste. Before serving, add ½ cup grated parmesan. If you choose to freeze, do so before adding the cheese.

Besides pasta, sandwiches and Caprese salad, here are 11 more dishes that crave pesto:

Turkey meatballs
Deviled eggs
Chicken or tuna salad
French bread pizza
Corn, bean and tomato salad
Veggie lasagna
Bean and pasta soup
Planked salmon or redfish before roasting
Halved cherry tomatoes
Goat cheese log with good crackers
Roasted potatoes


A couple of tablespoons of pesto in this black bean and corn salad, in addition to fresh slivers for garnish, gives a burst of freshness and an extra layer of flavor.


Planked redfish stays moist and flavorful during grilling with homemade pesto and fresh tomatoes on top.


Fresh Louisiana tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and homemade basil pesto.


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