Basil bounty

I love basil. It’s so easy to grow, and so delicious. In my shade-soaked yard, there’s not much sunlight to go around, but I always save a spot for a little starter-plant of basic sweet basil, and cross my fingers that it’ll get its share of sun from its perch in my herb planter.

But this year, I did something different: In addition to my starter plant, I grew basil from seed, purchased for pennies at Crate & Barrel Outlet, of all places (since when does C&B sell seeds?). Now, my mature seedlings are thriving above and beyond my starter plant.

Crazy, right? This is how my potted basil looks two days after trimming off every last edible leaf for Sunday dinner on the patio. Because the best part about fresh summer basil, in my mind, is fresh summer pesto.

This was my Sunday harvest — just enough to make pesto for two. After rinsing my leaves and patting them dry, I tossed them into the food processor with a couple cloves of garlic, olive oil, a handful of almonds,┬ásalt and pepper, and a teaspoon or so of parmesan.

I love how easy it is to make, and how good it tastes sitting out on the patio as the day’s heat begins to ease off a bit.

I’m officially hooked: I’m going to grow basil from seed from here on out. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch the sprouts grow into a plant, and beyond reaping from the amazing basil bounty, I love how pretty a terracotta pot full of the stuff looks in a little corner of my patio.

Pesto, presto ~ serves two
8 ounces fresh basil leaves, rinsed & patted dry
1-2 ounces olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup almonds
1 teaspoon parmesan
salt & pepper to taste

1. In a food processor, combine basil, olive oil and garlic, pulsing until finely chopped.
2. Add almonds; pulse until chopped.
3. Add parmesan, salt & pepper and pulse to desired texture, pausing to taste.
4. When pesto is chopped as finely as you’d like, scoop the lot of it into a bowl of freshly boiled & drained pasta, stirring to coat thoroughly.
5. Serve at room temperature; garnish with a bit more parmesan if you want to be fancy.