We have had an unusually long growing season in Colorado this year. It's middle of September, mind you, and I still go out every day and pick fresh tomatoes off the vine. No rain or moisture in sight anywhere. Colorado usually has an early snowfall around this time of year. We get at least one brutal beating in the form of a big snow or frost that kills our tender garden plants. But not this year!
I suppose there are certain advantages to the global warming process, at least when you live in Colorado and love tomatoes. Of course, when you grow tomatoes you must grow basil, since the two go together like bread and butter. There is no easier way of cooking dinner than rubbing a bowl with garlic cloves, chopping up a handful of fresh ripe tomatoes and tossing them with cooked pasta and some olive oil. It's so easy a child can do it. Voila! You got dinner in about 20 minutes.
But while the fresh tomato taste shall be missed sorely, for it must snow or get cold sooner or later, the basil flavor can be preserved. During the hot summer months I often make pesto - this most magic Italian sauce.
To make pesto all you need is:
- fresh basil leaves
- fresh parsley
- extra virgin olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- pine nuts
- salt and pepper
I really don't use measurements any more. I am a firm believer in intuitive cooking. I just toss the lots of fresh green leaves (mostly basil and a few leaves of parsley) and olive oil in the food processor and blend them until I get a smooth paste. You don't want it too runny or too stiff. I just keep adding olive oil to the leaves until it is a nice consistency that can be tossed with my pasta. Once you have the pesto sauce you add 1-2 cloves of garlic and the other items on the list. Let your taste buds decide what combination they like best. Often I leave out the pine nuts completely because they are expensive, or I can only find the questionable kind imported from China (stay away from them!).
It is very easy to preserve the pesto for the winter! Just do the first step of my recipe! Make a pure paste from olive oil and fresh herbs and freeze this mixture in ice cube trays. Once they are frozen solid I put the pesto cubes in Ziploc bags.
Don't add any of the other ingredients for they will make your pesto funky when you thaw it out!
Now when winter rolls around, and you get a hankering for fresh basil, you just take out a couple of your pesto cubes, thaw them out, add some olive oil, and the usual ingredients. The kids can make dinner again! Voila! You have the bounty of summer at your fingertips from October through April...