I try to grow six to eight basil plants every year on the back porch.
I find basil does just fine in pots, so no reason to waste garden space growing it. After much hand-wringing over the state of my basil plants this year, they somehow pulled through. With our unusually cold spring this year my basil had trouble. A couple of plants didn’t survive overnight lows in the 40s that came out of nowhere in May. The plants that made it simply didn’t grow, just staying the same size day after day.
Luckily my mom is more cautious about putting her seedlings outside than I am. She was nice enough to share a couple of her extra basil plants with me. Once the weather finally warmed up, even my stunted plants took off nicely. Incredibly, it’s already time to harvest.
I use fresh basil for canning spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce and bruschetta. Garden tomatoes generally aren’t ripe for the first basil harvest, so it gets made into pesto.
Pesto is super-easy to make. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:
4 cups basil leaves (up to 2 cups parsley can be substituted)
1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts, but they are very costly)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (Romano cheese also works)
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
Put all ingredients into your food processor except oil. Start blending and pour oil in through the pour tube on your processor. Process until smooth. Add more or less garlic and cheese if you like, to taste.
Pesto can be frozen in jars and in ice cube trays. I just cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper and make mounds about 1/2 cup each. Once the mounds are frozen, I store them in freezer bags. I use them mostly on pizza, which is pretty much a staple around our house. Let me know how your pesto comes out!