Sunday, July 18, 2010

No flavor more exemplifies these days of High Summer than a fresh pesto.

I don't mean the green glop you see spooned onto limp pasta and over-cooked salmon, however. Real pesto is nothing more than a big bunch of fresh, fiercely aromatic basil leaves chopped fine with minced raw garlic and then drizzled with enough extra virgin olive oil to pull everything together. Some fresh-grated Parmesan or Romano cheese adds another intense flavor to the mix, making your plain old anything a meal to remember.

Your local farmer's market is probably the best bet for fresh basil, both for price, quantity, and quality--I got a huge bunch for a buck!

And really, you don't need a blender. I find that for many things in the kitchen, good knife skills will make up for a lack of appliances. A mortar and pestle is a good way to go as well, if you like a smoother sauce (mine is far too small for most practical cookery), and you can show off your impressive arm muscles to friends afterwards ;)

The vibrant green of the basil perfectly complements the greenery all around, soaking up these long hours of sunshine and is one way to make summer intimately yours. It's a different way to experience the season: strong flavors not only taste great, but the basil and garlic are invigorating, bringing new strength to body and spirit. I'm no great shakes at herbalism (not yet, anyway), but I've read a little on elemental correspondences and herbs: namely, hot and cold and wet and dry. From what I recall, basil is hot and wet, nourishing with water while energizing at the same time. Combined with the heat of raw garlic, this makes for a potent potion!

It's easy for me to get caught up in something new and different, but I can only stand any food for so long. An easy solution (and great way to save a flavor of summer for colder months) is to freeze the pesto in little portions for later. *Leave out the cheese before you freeze! It doesn't really freeze well and tastes better fresh anyway.* Using an ice-cube tray lined with squares of plastic wrap or tinfoil is a great way to portion it out and keeps it from getting messy.

So bring out the basil and throw some veggies on the grill; open up a bottle of white wine and enjoy these summer days while we can.

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