One of my favorite things to harvest at this time of year are herbs, so I've going to do a short series on a few of the ones I use the most. I tend to grow herbs that have multiple purposes: culinary, medicinal, and/or magical. Many herbs fall under this category, and they often have lovely flowers that attract bees and other beneficial insects. They're usually easy to grow, and you can harvest smaller pieces all through the growing season simply by snipping off the amount you need.
|One of my basil patches in the garden.|
Pesto is a simple sauce made from a few ingredients. There is no cooking required--just put them all together in a food processor or a blender and whir them together until you get the consistency you like. If you don't have a machine, you can do it by hand, but this involves a lot of chopping...
Pesto freezes extremely well, so you can grow or buy fresh basil, and put up a big batch at the end of the season. When you pull a container out in the middle of winter, it is like having a little bit of summer on your plate.
Basil's magical properties are love, protection, and prosperity, which means that it pairs well with the other ingredients in pesto. The traditional recipe calls for pine nuts, which are actually the seeds from inside a pine cone. (prosperity, love, strength) and they impart a nice creamy taste that helps to cut the strong flavor of the basil. But pine nuts are expensive and can be hard to find, so you can either mix them with or substitute walnuts (protection, intellect). Along with these you will use olive oil (sacred in many cultures, and used for health, peace, and spirit), garlic (protection and health), grated Parmesan cheese, and salt. (I also use a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, although I've never seen a recipe that calls for it. It's my secret ingredient, so shhhh...)
|All the other ingredients for pesto. Just add fresh basil.|
|The finished product, ready to toss with pasta, put on top of little red potatoes, or, anything else your little heart desires.|