Kitty’s Presto Pesto Pasta

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6 POUNDS OF BASIL!!!

What on earth do we do with 6 pounds of beautiful basil?  We knew we had a great crop this year – we have been picking and enjoying fresh basil seemingly without end since July, but we were not expecting to harvest 6 pounds when frost threatened!!  Thankfully we LOVE basil and it freezes really well for the winter.

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Not only do we love to eat basil, it helps us in our battle against weeds.  Battle against weeds you ask?  YOU BET!  We sprinkle basil seeds around the bases of freshly planted tomato and pepper plants and as they grow, they create a lovely, tasty, fragrant weed barrier – bonus score!  We planted 3 varieties this year – Genovese, Sweet and Opal (purple) basil. They taste similar and I cannot honestly say I prefer one to the other.

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Even the bees love basil!!

Soooo….what to do with all of this green gold (literally – 2 ounces of fresh basil was $2.49 at the market this week….)?  My wee girl and I set to work and we spent the morning blending, pesto-ing and cooking!  The house smelled amazing and our bellies were full and happy – as is the freezer.

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We began by pulling the leaves off the stems…

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This is the square footage 6 pounds of basil covers!! But it packs down pretty tight.

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For simple freezing, we added 10 cups of leaves and 1 cup of olive oil to the blender.  I don’t have nearly enough ice cube trays, so once blender-ed to “smizereens”, we spread it over plastic plates, covered them and popped them in the freezer. Once frozen, I pull them off the plates, cut into chunks and store in freezer bags to pull out and add to sauces and salad dressings all winter.

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And of course, we made pesto!!

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Our recipe that we like to use is:

8 cloves of garlic

1 cup of pine nuts

4 cups of packed basil leaves

1 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of grated fresh parmesan

Salt and pepper

Presto! Once blended, we freeze this as well on plastic trays – I am hesitant to jar pesto for long term storage given the risks of botulism with garlic but we do keep a few in the fridge.

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So with all the work done, my wee girl’s belly was grumbling, a perfect excuse to make fresh pasta to serve with our pesto and some tomatoes picked that morning!

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For the homemade pasta we mix 3 1/2 cups of flour with 3 fresh eggs, 1 cup of local wine and 3 cloves of pressed garlic.  Kneading the dough with an extra 1/2 – 1 cup of flour until it is no longer sticky is key – and fun for little hands!

Once the dough is set, we cut off small chunks, dust them with flour and run them through the pasta mill – first through the pasta sheet side, then through the fettucini noodle attachment. The noodles are spread on cloth until they firm up a bit – about 30 minutes. Boil in salted water for roughly 5 minutes until cooked to the right texture. Once drained, we toss them with the fresh pesto and chopped tomatoes.  My hubby the “meat-a-tarian” added some local sausage to his before we sprinkled the plates with more grated parmesan.  And of course, we always have to sip some paired wine (grape juice for Kitty…) and belt out Andrea Bocelli for full Italian effect while eating (feel free to have a listen and a sing-along with us!)

The finished product – Kitty’s Presto Pesto Pasta!  Mama Mia, delizioso!

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What do you do with your beautiful basil?

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Hehehe, this made me giggle!

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Waste Not, Want Not – Radish Leaf Pesto

We like to try use as much of each veggie as possible so as to not waste all that hard work. Waste not, Want not! In the case of radish, it is hard to imagine that those prickly little greens could be of much use. To my delight, our CSA posted a recipe last year that is now a staple in our spring diet – Radish Leaf Pesto. It tastes similar to basil pesto, but “pepperier”…that is a word, right?! With radish ready to pick and lovely fresh salads, this pesto is one of my favourite to toss with pasta as a side. Mmmmm……

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Step 1

In a mini chopper, add washed radish leaves and coat well with olive oil. Purée until nice and runny.

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Step 2

Add fresh garlic cloves (I had these dried from last year, green garlic would also be lovely this time of year), salt and pepper to taste and real Parmesan cheese.

I have also added basil and pine nuts, but it is just as nice without it.

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Toss on on pasta, et voila!!

” This Pesto is the best-o!” – Phoebe from Friends