This past week was a welcome reprieve from the dreary winter days that have been a constant recently. Seeing the sun has done a lot to chase away the dread with which I have been approaching the weather. And (knock on wood) we finally had a snow-free week. I never thought I would be this happy to see snow melt away, but I am … I could do without the quicksand that suddenly appeared on my driveway though. Seriously. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
The heightened temperatures (take that you silly old groundhog!) have given way to thoughts of summer foods. Sweet, juicy tomatoes that explode in your mouth, strawberries so juicy that one nibble sends streams of pink down your chin, a sprig of vibrant basil, fresh English peas for shelling, peeling sweet corn, garlic scrapes … Oh, how I miss summer produce. And try as I might to eat what’s in season, I sometimes need a reprieve too. So, when I smelled the vibrant, unmistakable scent of basil in the grocery store the other day, I had to have it. The big bunch looked so fresh and perfect, I simply couldn’t leave without it.
So I didn’t.
Basil, to me, is the epitome of summer. From it’s familiar, sunny smell to the texture of its vivid green, slightly thick leaves, it just screams of caprese sandwiches eaten with sand between your toes at the beach, minced leaves whisked into homemade salad dressings, and, of course, pesto whirled in a food processor.
Perhaps better, basil is one of those things that enhances dishes when it’s stirred into sauces or rolled into chicken, but it really shines raw. And raw preparations are fast, easy and simple. So, when you are exhausted and the very idea of cooking anything makes you tear up, basil (especially basil pesto) can be the solution. Easy peasy, as they say.
Basic Basil Pesto
yields about 1 cup
2 cups packed basil leaves, washed and dried
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
salt, to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.
To use: Stir in to pasta, slather on bread, toss with vegetables before roasting or use as a spread in sandwiches. Mmm.