The Summer growing season extends long into October in the Bay Area of California, which is where I garden. With any luck I will be gathering tomatoes still in early-mid November. Knowing this, I always feed my Summer veggie plants one last time around the end of August/beginning of September. As the days get a little cooler and the heat from the sun is less intense, I often notice a growth spurt or second wind. The tomato plants set more fruits as do the eggplants, and the beans get ready for another crop or two before dying back. I help this new growth with an addition of soil amendments.
At this time, lucky California gardeners are not only enjoying the beginning of the fall crops such as chard, kale, spinach and lettuce but are still picking plentiful supplies of tomatoes, summer squash, beans and of course basil.
At the beginning of the Summer, I was using fresh basil leaves as garnish, flavoring and even whole leaves in mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwiches. Basil for me earmarks the beginning of Summer. It is the taste and smell of Summer, reminding me of bees lazily buzzing around in the warm garden happily pollinating the young bright yellow squash blossoms. So now at the end of Summer, having had a respite from the initial excitement of home grown basil I am back with enthusiasm for it as the main ingredient of pesto.
Here is a very simple recipe for great pesto. No cooking required!
2 cups of fresh picked basil leaves
1 cup of virgin olive oil (I always use California olive oil to save on carbon miles)
3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of grated walnuts or pine nuts
Put the basil leaves in a blender and give them an initial chop, making sure all the leaves get chopped a little, not just the ones on the bottom.
Add olive oil and blend. Add garlic and blend. Add nuts (finely chopped before adding) and blend. Add cheese and make a final blend.
Voila - perfect delicious pesto.
Simple ways of using pesto are:
Chop up some tomatoes and mix with pesto and use for a side dish or apetizer.
Add a teaspoon of pesto and mix thoroughly to a Greek salad for two people.
Add to plain whole wheat spaghetti and serve with a side of veggies.
Use as a sandwich spread.
Use on Bruschetta along with brie cheese.
Add to your favorite pizza topping.
Below, a healthy basil plant - the promise of delicious things to come.