A good pesto begins with fresh organic basil. You don't need a green thumb to grow your own basil, it's easy! Basil is an annul herb that can be planted in organic vegetable gardens, containers, or hanging baskets. It needs well-drained, rich soil and does best in sunny locations. Soil that has been mixed with organic compost will help ensure vital, fragrant herbs.
As a companion plant, basil will help protect tomato plants by repelling fruit flies, aphids and spider mites. It also protects against the nasty tomato hornworm. I have found that my tomatoes have a delicious basil taste when the herb is grown in proximity. Pruning the sides and tops of the plants frequently, every 2 – 3 weeks, will encourage a bushy plant and maximize production. Pinch the tops directly above two small leaves, leaving enough foliage for continued healthy growth.
Basil is a wonderful source of vitamins K, A, and C, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. Basil is a heart healthy herb, working to prevent free radicals and build-up in the arteries. The magnesium helps blood vessels to relax encouraging blood circulation.
Try this simple pesto recipe and take advantage of the health benefits of organic basil.
3 cups fresh basil
4 cloves fresh garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup roasted or raw pine nuts
Salt and pepper
Pulse pine nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add basil and Parmesean cheese. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while mixing, blend to a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Use the pesto as a marinade, with grilled veggies, instead of pizza sauce, in omelets, in white lasagna, and on pasta.
I split the leftover pesto into four servings and popped them in the freezer for a ready-to-go meal in minutes. I'm also excited to try freezing the leaves directly in ice cube trays now to use while cooking this winter. The benefits of growing your own organic groceries are endless, enjoy!