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Make Your Own Pesto from Your Herb Garden

Ready to dig into gardening? Start small!

Jar of pesto.

Warmer weather and longer days are here, and for many people, that means gardening time. If you’re ready to till the soil but don’t know where to start, or if you technically don’t have any soil to till, you can still develop your green thumb by starting small, both in square feet and in plant size. How? Herbs.

Herbs are great for growing in small spaces, as many thrive in containers, vertical set-ups on a patio, or even indoors on a sunny windowsill. You can tailor the plant selection to whatever space and climate you have, and fresh herbs are a great motivator for cooking rather than eating out. Plus, if you find out that you REALLY don’t care for the taste of cilantro, you can pull up a few dollars’ worth of plants and start over without breaking a sweat.

In terms of versatility, it’s hard to beat basil as an herb for all seasons. (This is literally true if you’re growing it indoors.) In addition to providing the foundation for pesto (more on that later), it adds a delicious flavor to sauces, soups, pasta, and even lemonade and mixed drinks. Better still, it’s easy to grow indoors or outdoors, and because it regrows leaves rapidly, you can harvest what you need throughout the entire growing season.

And pesto? Simply put, it works on everything. Serve it on hot pasta or cold pasta salad. Accent grilled chicken or salmon. Add in tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for caprese salad or caprese sandwiches. Or, put a fresh spin on pizza!

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Perfect Pesto

  • 4 c. fresh basil leaves

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • ½ c. pine nuts, or other nut of your choice

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • ½ tsp. pepper

  • ¼ c. cold water

  • ¾ c. parmesan cheese

  • ½ c. heavy cream

  • ¾ c. olive oil

  1. Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth.

  2. While the food processor is running, add the olive oil, and blend until smooth. If the mixture is not blending, add additional olive oil or a tablespoon of water or lemon juice, then continue to blend until smooth.

  3. Pesto can be refrigerated in jars or airtight containers for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to six months. For easy reheating, freeze pesto in ice cube trays, and then transfer into a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag. That way you can thaw the right amount for any recipe!


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