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Well, this is today’s batch of pesto, ready for the freezer. I didn’t originally plan on making any, but the food processor was out, the basil plant was bountiful, and so it was time… I love pesto, and I love being able to take some out of the freezer come wintertime. Pesto pizza is always tasty, as is a pesto pasta with mushrooms, but my favorite is simply pesto on a toasted bagel with some melted cheese on top. I always end up tweaking the recipe a bit differently for each batch, depending on how it’s tasting, and often I’ll add sun-dried tomatoes (but not today – I went purist style). Pesto has always frozen very well for me, so I try to stock up the freezer during this time of year. Here is today’s recipe:

  • 4 large cloves of Garlic
  • 3 cups Fresh Basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan

In a food processor, chop garlic cloves and basil leaves first.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse until blended.

That’s my balcony basil from about six weeks ago… It was definitely time to use some of those yummy basil leaves!

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Herbs Drying

This is my contraption for drying some of the herbs from my balcony garden. I’m using a cookie rack on the bottom and an upside-down sink colander over the top, with the herbs inside. I’m hoping there is enough air flow to dry them in a semi-proper sort of way. I’m also hoping that this is enough of a cat deterrent, as she loves investigating anything 1) new, and/or 2) green. So far, so good…

I’m drying sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, basil, and oregano. This is the fourth day and they seem to be shrinking and drying okay. I try not to disturb them too much. I’d like to make an ‘Herbes de Provence’ blend for the pantry… So, once they’ve dried, we’ll see what I end up doing with them. Here is a picture of the menacing culprit that I’m trying to keep at bay…

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One of my absolute favorite dishes this time of year is an Insalata Caprese style salad. I use fresh basil from my balcony garden, along with fresh tomatoes from the local farm market. Add some fresh mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of olive oil… Mmmmm! I do prefer to chop and cube my ingredients, but that’s just me.

Another variation that I adore adds grilled eggplant. In this dish, I slice the ingredients and layer them on pieces of crusty bread. It’s also good warmed a bit under the broiler… just enough the melt the mozzarella slightly. I’ll have to make it that way soon!

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Basil

Well, the basil is growing very nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I’m going to have to start making some pesto pretty soon! I have been using it fresh, which I love doing, but there’s enough of it now that pesto time is in order. So, I will be adding that to my list.

Baby Lettuce

I’m pleasantly surprised with this baby lettuce mix. It’s now of a size where I could pick some and use it on a sandwich. Not quite enough yet for a salad, which is how I’m really looking forward to using it. So, I will continue to water and watch it grow!

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Bean Spread on Crackers

I found an ingredient list for a bean spread that looked, well, interesting. Something to try and play around with… And that’s pretty much how it turned out. I was curious to use the white beans as a base. My only other experience with pureed beans would be hummus, and that has a very distinct chickpea flavor (which I adore, mind you). So for the cannellini beans, I was curious.

It came out okay. I’ve used the spread on a sandwich and as a topping for crackers (see above). I can’t say it’s something that I would crave, but then again, I like knowing it’s a good-for-you type of spread. As opposed to, say, a cheese spread or dip (which I also adore, mind you). I liked using fresh herbs from the balcony, and I will definitely be playing with them quite a bit this season. The red onions in this spread were too strong right away… But after it had some time to meld in the fridge, it did, well, mellow out. So, here’s the ingredient list, take it or leave it. I’m of mixed reviews on it right now…

  • Cannellini Beans, one can, thoroughly rinsed and drained
  • Drizzling of Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Red Onion, half of a medium-sized – not sure I’d even add this next time, particularly if I’m adding chives
  • Fresh Chives – I think I used 6 stalks, and I’d use more next time, while omitting the red onions
  • Fresh Thyme – handful of sprigs

I’d probably add a dash or two of lemon juice next time also.  Basically, I put everything in the food processor and whirled away.  Definitely put in fridge to let flavors mix…

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Here is my newly planted herb container of oregano, chives, and thyme. This is my first time growing oregano, so I’m curious about that. Also, I don’t generally use it a lot, so we’ll see where and how it ends up. It’s about time for my annual online fresh herb recipe search, so I’m sure I’ll get some ideas then. I love having the thyme and chives. I’ll definitely be using them in dips and spreads and such. I was reading this morning about putting fresh herbs in marinades with meats… I will have to try that too! I’ve also got a lavender out there, though that is more for prettiness, in sight and in scent…

And here is my beloved basil container. This pic shows them at one week old (with me), and I’ve already been plucking away at the leaves. I put a chopped tomato and basil mix on top of some pasta last week. Then D. used the rest of it tonight as a topping to a sandwich he made for us. These guys may look a little tall but scrawny now, but they are going to poof out and look more like a mini basil Christmas tree in about a month’s time. At least, if past year’s basil is any indication…

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Here, in all its glory, is the full bounty of what I found at the local garden center after work this evening. It’s from a fourth-generation family farm founded in 1932. They’ve got their own homegrown fruits and veggies, along with some organics too. And some non-local goodies, like California strawberries. It’s a mix of local, and/or organic, and/or U.S.-grown produce and fruits. And since it’s a small, local farm and garden center, I do like supporting them. Plus, their fruits and veggies just taste so good! I’ve already found several of my flowers and herbs from there earlier this month. I like the way the asparagus is poking out at you in the above pic…

I spent my evening happily cleaning and cutting:

Tomatoes, green onions, salad mix, cherries, strawberries, celery, asparagus, bananas, mushrooms, a cucumber, and carrots. Pumpkin was interested too:

Very, very pleased…

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