Halloween decorations are beginning to show up in stores, which means I won't seem so weird for having them up in my house already! For those who don't know, I'm working on a Halloween book, which means I've got witches and vampires on the mind.
Your garden is uttering the last gasps of summer. The zucchini is spent. The red pepper plants have withered. The cucumbers dried up, and there are only a couple of pathetic lone tomatoes left on the vine.
But in the middle of the garden, planted last spring when you were full of hope and energy, there sits a gigantic plant, the leaves still bright in the sun. It's basil's turn to shine -- which can only mean one thing -- it's time for pesto.
I have to admit that I was not a fan of pesto until I made my own. I suspect pesto is one of those recipes that is better if you tinker with it a little bit to emphasize the flavors you prefer.
The ingredients are fairly basic. Lots of basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I would recommend using a mild olive oil.
A few years ago, I searched high and low for pine nuts. I found them, too. $12.99 for less than a fistful. Consequently, I am officially a believer in substituting walnuts in pesto. They're every bit as good -- maybe better.
I'm a big fan of garlic, so I'm likely to toss in an extra clove or two. Beware! This is fresh, uncooked garlic, so it has a bite. If you think you might like to use extra garlic, add it gradually. Excellent for warding off the vampires in your life, though. One little poof of air in their direction, and I promise they'll flee!
1/4 cup walnuts
2 medium size garlic cloves
2 cups packed basil leaves (washed and dried)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup olive oil
Combine the walnuts and garlic cloves in a food processor with a few leaves of basil. Pulse until the walnuts and garlic are fine. Mash in the rest of the basil leaves and spin. With the food processor running, add the olive oil in a slow drizzle. Add salt and pepper to taste and whirl one more time.
Toss with pasta, use on pizza or bruschetta, add a dollop to grilled fish, or just spread on a slice of toast for lunch! Enjoy!