The First Garden Bounty
There is nothing better than walking into your yard and contemplating dinner from the things you can see. My tomatoes are growing and the green bean seeds have magically turned into plants but it is still early here in Asheville for summer produce. One thing that is ready to go now though is the basil plants.
I have had many different pestos – many that I do not like. Pesto can be heavy sometimes and with cheese and nuts and oil it’s not really figure-friendly. I found a recipe in the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook from 2006 for a little lighter pesto and it is officially in the Mildly Manic Mom’s summer repetoire.
A few things about pesto…I use pine nuts but I’ll warn you these can be really expensive! I’ve found the best buy at Sams Warehouse and I would think they would be at any of the big warehouse stores. To get the most flavor from the nuts, I toast them in a frying pan before using them. Watch them carefully – they can burn quickly. Also, be sure to use fresh grated good parmesan cheese – look for Pamigiano-Reggiano. I also buy a big chunk of this from Sams and grate as needed. It’s always there for all that roasted broccoli my kids eat!
I actually doubled the recipe below last night as I wanted to leave some for the family and also take some to my girls-night dinner nosh party. The food was fabulous, the wine wonderful but the company was the best!! So with the doubled pesto recipe I used a 14.5 oz box of rotini. After tossing the pesto with the warm pasta, I added 2 chopped tomatoes. I can’t wait to make this again when my heirloom tomatoes come in!
Toast 1/4 cup of pine nuts in a skillet. Grate 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Remove the stems from one large bunch of fresh basil – you need about 2 cups of packed leaves. Crush 2 cloves of garlic.
In a food processor or blender, combine the about ingredients and also add the following: 2 tablespoons of good olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of water. Process until the consistency you like. That’s it! You’re done.
This keeps a little while in the refrigerator but the vibrant green color will turn kind of brown. It still tastes good – spread on a turkey sandwich or mixed with white beans – but it will not be as gorgeous.
If you don’t have a garden, start with basil. Pinch large stems off and they will grow back double. It is an easy one to grow – as long as you remember to water it once in a while! Stick a tomato plant and maybe a mint plant in a pot and you will be ready for summer!
~ The Mildly Manic Mom