Posted by: A Part of the Solution | June 25, 2010

Pesto in the Time of Basil

Basil is just getting going here in the Southern Alleghenies. We’re behind the flood plains of the Mid-Atlantic region. We’re ahead of New England. So we’re right on time for where the farm is located. We planted a lot of basil this year. We grew seedlings and seedlings of basil in peat cells. And we grew more than one kind–we grew four.

The basil rows we have fully established amount to more than two hundred and twenty feet in length. The plants themselves are low to the ground this year, on account of having had barely any rain for the past six weeks. But their leaves are broad and a little crinkly. Just walking between the two adjacent rows is a heady experience–the smell so fresh and green and anisey.

We put the extra Genoese basil seedlings in for our CSA members, who also receive purple basil (striking as a garnish), Thai opal basil and sweet basil (like the Genoese, but without the fine name). Basil becomes bitter once it forms flowers. Thus I go up and down the rows pinching off the top leaf set whenever it may look close to the tipping point.

Why am I not surprised that my go-to British cookbook author, Elizabeth David, had the right recipe in her book Italian Food.  It uses up the basil, and tastes perfectly balanced.


4 c. basil, de-stemmed

3 1/2 TBSP pine nuts

1 1/4″ X 1″ X 1″ block of Parmesan, grated finely

1 clove garlic (my addition, I must confess)

a few grinds of black pepper

5 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil

Put the first five ingredients in the blender or food processor. Grind until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly. Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve tossed in al dente long goods (spaghetti, linguine &tc). with a little more grated Parmesan.

Kudos to Anna St John for making us grow tons of the good stuff!



  1. How long does pesto keep in the fridge, Carrie? If you top it off with more oil so it doesn’t change color, I mean.

    • Topping it off with oil gives you another week to a week and a half. You can also freeze the stuff in a dedicated to non-water ice cube tray. When frozen, empty into a zipper lock bag, and you have quick portions!

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