What’s a girl to do with a bumper crop of basil? Prepare homemade pesto, of course!
My husband comes from a family of herb farmers. When we first met, my hands had never gotten dirty, let alone grown something. And yet our first date involved a four-wheeler and greenhouse tour. I fell hard and fast for fresh carrots plucked straight out of the ground, for the delicate leaves of spicy baby arugula and, yes, for the man I would eventually marry. He taught me how to plant my first herb garden, and his Aunt Bonnie, the matriarch of Dehn’s Garden, taught me what to do with them.
Back then, using fresh herbs as liberally as salt was a revelation. Today it’s the only way I know how to cook. Everything just tastes better with fresh herbs. Snip chives into scrambled eggs and suddenly you’re sitting in a French bistro. Toss a handful of mint into your lemonade and you’re at the spa. Make your own pesto and you'll never buy a premade version again.
The classic Italian combination of pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon, garlic and big handfuls of basil is so easy to make—and the answer to that bumper crop of basil most of us find ourselves with each summer. Rich and garlicky, pesto brightens up vegetables, pasta and grilled meats. I also love to spread it on grilled veggie sandwiches or to mix a little into sour cream for a quick crudités dip. The real beauty of pesto, however, is that it freezes well. So come winter, you can enjoy a garden-fresh supper.