Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pesto party, the basil's hardy !!!!!

Moving to Arizona changed so many aspects of my life but losing my gardening capacities was a difficultly I have yet to adapt to. Flowers, veggies, fruits & herbs dominated my warm season life & yet how ironic to live now in all warm season only to be surrounded by desert. However there's still basil.
Basil loves hot weather, drying out in between watering, heck you can ignore it. To be blunt; anyone can grow basil, so anyone reading should try. Tip one: buy seeds. A plant nowadays costs above 3.00 & for half that you can enough seeds to last a long time. The rest you can follow the directions on the pack. By the way Botanical Interests is my favorite brand. I've never had failure with their seeds.


So with Thai, flavored basil such as, lemon, lime, even cinnamon, & enough varieties to make your head spin, I say "Bon giorno genovese!!" & be done with it. Its classic, hardy & giving. Remember though to pluck from tender stems, taking the stem to ensure new growth & all before flowering. Now go create & eat.

Pesto...easy right??? Definitely, use a processor, use a mortar & pestle...hmmm notice the words similarities?? Well it is where the origins comes into play. By the way I've done it both ways & there is a difference: the pestle doesn't bruise the leaves & retains its truest flavor but really who has that much time. My pesto secrets are toasting the pine nuts, GOOD parmigiano reggiano always sea salt &...&..my Nicolas Alziari olive oil. Sssshhhhhh. Ironically its French buts this oil is soo wonderful. Now if you're looking for a bolder, fruitier oil flavor then by all means, use it but I prefer my basil to shine so I use my liquid gold. Yum, yum is this not heavenly????


Here comes the fun... add O California port balsamic, jalapeno, walnuts, lemon juice & zest whatever floats your boat.

I make aioli verde for sandwiches, throw a tablespoon into hummus, lighten its consistency for salad dressing, dollop over creme fraiche for a quick dip, Lordy I can go on & on like the basil in the pot seems to be...exploding. If you do wish it to keep... airtight glass jar & olive oil on top to seal, but really make it as you go & truthfully a little pasta, a glass of prosecco & life is good.

My other stand by recipes are simple. An heirloom caprese salad using fresh room temp tomatoes & buffalo mozzarella, the Alziari oil, sea salt & a bit of pepper. Use romas so it less seedy but add the sweet grapes, stretch the color palette & go nuts. I love purple Cherokees too.
Sometimes I switch the cheese for an herb chevre, it really lends itself well to the heirlooms. I've also done a splash of lemon to brighten it up when the tomatoes are less acidic as some heirlooms can be.

My other is Pesto Ricotta Pie. I first found the recipe in Country Living & retooled it a bit, leaving the pine nuts whole , adding to the pie later. but seriously how pretty is this? The rough edges of the phyllo cascading out did me in & yup I using my scissors too, to make the great edging but sometimes tearing it roughly looks great as well.
My last word is quality. I've always believed quality over quantity in life which is why I'll always tell you to get the best. Sure the reggiano & buffalo mozzarella cost more but you're using it as an accent so a small amount is only needed.
Til then sit back, eat & enjoy a favorite view of mine.


Images courtesy of Country Living & skona hem

38 comments:

Simone said...

Oh wow, this sounds AMAZING!! We have pesto at least twice a week but I have to confess to never have made my own....although after reading this I think I must try it out. I LOVE the smell of fresh basil and the taste of toasted pine nuts.....delicious! Love the photos in your post....shame it's only breakfast time here :)

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Lovely post Alicia. Such beautiful colours in the 1st and last images. And thanks you so much for you lovely comments. It's my favourite photo, although I couldn't find the original and took a photo of a framed version. The things we do! Oh and thanks also for the good advice from Dr Fun. I'll take that advice next weekend. x Julie

Alicia B. Designs said...

My mother makes the most incredible pesto that I've been known to eat it by the spoonful. OOPS. I'll have to some this week...thanks!!

Willow Decor: said...

I adore basil and my mouth is watering!!
Thanks so much for the recipes!! Great post!!
xx-Gina

Carla said...

I love basil and currently have four window boxes full of small plants in Paris. it makes me happy picking the leaves in the evening and adding it to my daily dish. So gorgeous and so wonderful when it is yours. Carla

Rose said...

I always make sure I have a basil plant in my patio. Condo living limits my planting of course but I always have room for a pot of basil.

Thank you for your lovely recipes......and that last photo with the view is heavenly!

Hugs,Rose

Juju said...

I did not know that about basil. Thank you. I might just try to grow some. I adore a good pesto.

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

I feel for you. I know your landscape is beautiful in a differant way, but oh, boy would that be hard for me. But on a good note, I do love basil...

Sanity Fair said...

Can't wait to try some of these! I would love to have dinner in that first picture - great atmosphere.

Lisa said...

Oh my you are an absolute pro at the pesto bar!
My favorite way to enjoy basil is room temp.on juicy heirlooms!
If I do a tomato post I would love to tell folks about your salad!
By the way, thank you so much for your very kind words!
Lisa

Dumbwit Tellher ♥ said...

You read my mind Alicia. I have been toying with the thought of growing my own but didn't know how it would do here in Texas; now I know I can do it.Your Ricotta pie looks amazing, cannot wait to try. Thanks so much!!

lily-g said...

you have inspired me to make a batch of pesto! what a fabulous, delightful post, even my hubby enjoyed it xx

Federica said...

I have a surprise for you....come to my blog!

Sabine, La Marquise des anges said...

what life would be without basil !!! :) what a wonderful blog post ... thnaks for sharing. I so love basil ...

vicki archer said...

I am making pesto this week - thanks Alicia, your recipes sound delicious. xv

Beach House Dreamer said...

I so have to try this. I use pesto in a jar and it's just not the same! Also, I hope you follow me at my new location!

pve design said...

We had pesto last night!
It was de-lish!

Vitania said...

Alicia...My mouth is watering..REcipes from the home country. This year I planted 4 plants - and I plan to eat pesto all summer long - in pasta, risotto... and at the end of the summer when I am desperate.. I freeze it in icecube trays . Also planted a tonne of cherry tomatoes.. for my caprese and greek salads which i also love.. Buffalo mozzarella.. I'm getting faint..

I cannot wait to make the Ricotta pesto pie.. it looks delicious. My mom used to make something like it only on a pizza..

A la prossima..
Vitania

Candy-Faith..... from Simply Pretty said...

Such a pretty blog :)

Kris said...

I'm pretty inspired to grow basil again. Thanks!!

annechovie said...

Alicia, you are making me so hungry! Your recipes sound absolutely wonderful. I hope you are having a great week out there in the Valley of the Sun. Keep cool!

Oliveaux said...

I can smell the basil just looking at these images. I really wish I were in that last image right now!! Ax

manon 21 said...

j'adore cuisiner avec du basilic.
et j'adore recevoir des messages de l'arizona!!!
a bientôt

manon

Kellie ~ Ada and Darcy said...

My mouth is watering!!! YUM!!! xxx

Gaia said...

We do pesto at home, it's so easy and so good !
Are you sure you are not Italian? Not even a drop?
I love the caprese salad so perfect for summer!
Hope you'll have a very sunny relaxing we!!!

tales from an oc cottage said...

Sca-rump-tious!!!

m ^..^

The Antiques Diva™ said...

"Anyone can grow basil"... unless you live in Amsterdam where the continuous rainfall water clogs even the most resistent well drained of plants... I live on tomatoes and mozarella in the summer time and found it tragic to not be able to grow my own Basil.

On a different note, I can't think of Basil without thinking of my former lawyer in Paris... his name was Basil (pronounced with a long A) and he was an Englishman, and though I've since learned this is a normal UK name, it still strikes me odd.

Diane said...

Beautiful blog... first time here. I moved to a desert also, Palm Springs. Oh how I miss green. I think I will grow some basil also.. dual purpose
basil... green and great for cooking.

mimi charmante said...

What a heavenly post! I love the first photo as I am forever aspiring to create the perfect outdoor setting. I also love the tomato and boccocinni salad as it is one of my favorites! While we have wonderful gardens here, my basil has years where it gets no higher than four inches... I wish I could send you some of my gardens, and you could send me some flourishing basil!
xo

Averill said...

Alicia, you're absolutely right -- basil is really easy to grow and works beautifully in TONS of recipes (and I'm going to have to try that pesto ricotta pie -- my hubby would love it!).

Btw, thanks for stopping by Odi et Amo. It's always nice to hear that folks have had similar experiences to you. In fact, that's one of my favorite aspects of blogging -- it makes the world feel so small and connected!

~Averill

The Stylish House said...

Alicia,
I am so glad you shared these recipes! I am heading to the Royal Oak farmers market and will get the ingredients to make your caprese salad. It looks wonderful.
Cathy

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

I made your pasta dish and it was yummy. thanks

Vanessa said...

Hello! Vitania recommended your blog and here I am for a visit! What a great blog! Lot's of inspiration... Thanks! Vanessa

Lee Beth said...

Someone loves basil. :D

~ ennui ~ said...

Can I come over for dinner ? ! ? !

You can write AND cook....hhmmm. I think you've got a cookbook in the works ;)

♥♥♥

The Townhouselady said...

Love a good pesto!

Haven and Home said...

I do love basil!!!!

Vanessa said...

Hello, I would love to feature this Pesto post on my blog, is that ok? It is great! Have a great day! Thanks! Vanessa