When it comes to using our seasonal produce that we harvest straight from our allotment or balcony garden, nothing gives me more of a buzz than harvesting herbs, I think it’s their aromatic smell that makes me feel oh so proud of the garden I am growing and today I want to share with you my favourite pesto recipe.
This year has been a funny old year on the plot, between the long winter, a cold spring and a rainy summer, it’s been difficult conditions for growers, so if you’re feeling downhearted about this growing season don’t, there is always next year.
When it comes to growing on both my balcony and also on my allotment plot one thing is for certain: I love growing herbs that I can use in salves, balms, tinctures, sauces and tea’s. It’s something that I have found a pleasure, even as a new gardener and is the perfect accompaniment to a kitchen garden. For me, a balcony gardener soley for 5 years before I got my allotment plot too, there was something wonderful about growing these wonderful smelling herbs that I could bring from pot to pan within minutes.
One of the best things about herbs, along with seasonal food in general, is that it is its most potent in terms of health, vitamins, minerals and bioavailability right after it is picked. Meaning that the quicker the time between you picking it and popping it into a recipe the better nutrients you will get from it. The same goes for seasonal food; picking it at the right time, in the right season and consuming it it shortly after is the best for your body and is giving it the right nutrients, at the right time, in the season that it needs it most. It’s not just magic that these things come to harvest when they do, in fact it is written in the stars.
Herbs have been an indispensable part of human civilisation for millennia. Their uses range from culinary to medicinal, from spicing up a simple dish to potentially healing ailments. Growing them is a rewarding endeavor even for beginner gardeners. They are hardy, require minimal space, and can even thrive indoors on a sunny window ledge too.
Find the right spot: Most herbs adore the sun. A spot that receives 6-8 hours of sunlight would be ideal.
Soil Matters: A well-draining soil is key. If planting in pots, consider a potting mix specifically designed for herbs.
Watering Wisely: Herbs, unlike other plants, prefer to stay on the dry side. It’s crucial to water only when the soil feels dry to touch.
Harvesting: Regularly pinch leaves and stems to encourage bushier growth. Remember, the more you harvest, the more they grow!
Fresh Basil Pesto
Is there anything better than the smell of fresh basil (other than Rosemary maybe?), for me it is the epitome of summer. Those beautiful green hues and the beautiful aroma when I open my greenhouse, I have been waiting to make myself a fresh pesto all summer long. Whether you grow your own or buy your basil, the taste is undoubtedly out of this world. When we aren’t growing our own our go to is always Riverford Organic. If you’re interested in fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs right to your door you can grab £15 off your second order when you order through my link. (Just for transparency, I also receive £15 off after your first order too)
At its heart, pesto is a simple sauce – a blend of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, cheese, and olive oil. Yet, the burst of flavours it imparts is nothing short of spectacular.
Whisk together the aromatic allure of fresh basil leaves with the rich, nutty essence of pine nuts, and you have a classic basil pesto. Enhanced with the sharp bite of garlic, the creamy texture of freshly grated cheese, and bound together with a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, this sauce is a simple yet sophisticated treat for the palate. Perfect for pastas or drizzled on pizzas.
- 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
- 50g of pine nuts (toasted)
- 150g Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
- 2 tsp of garlic granules
- 2 tsp of raw honey
- Add pine nuts to a frying pan and lightly toast until golden.
- In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, pine nuts and Olive oil.
- Add in the cheese and blend until creamy.
- Add in some honey to remove any bitterness that can occur.
- Store in an airtight container with a thin layer of olive oil on top to preserve freshness.
- To store for longer, add the pesto to ice cube trays, freeze and then decant into a freezer bag. Use when needed.
The beauty of pesto lies in its versatility. While basil pesto remains a classic, don’t hesitate to experiment. Swap basil for parsley, arugula, or even cilantro. Use walnuts or almonds instead of pine nuts. Change up the cheese you use to make it vegetarian or vegan friendly, or even to change the texture. The combinations are endless, each offering a unique flavour.
Whether you grow herbs for your kitchen, delve deep into the world of herbalism, or simply wish to taste the magic of homemade pesto, herbs promise a journey that’s both enriching and enlightening.