Yesterday we made our first batch of pesto for the year, and just like last year, I was so excited I forgot to take pictures! The recipe is here, and information on growing basil is here. Basil is a tender annual–you need to buy the plants or start them indoors from seed each year. This year I bought 20 plants. Four of them are in my patio herb garden, and 16 are in the vegetable plot. Yesterday we harvested 8 and made enough pesto for 6 meals. Over the weekend we’ll harvest the rest, because very soon two things will happen: beetles will attack the plants, and the plants will bloom vigorously. Like most herbs, the flavor of basil is best early in the season, before the plants bloom. If you wait too long, the pesto is bitter. In the region around Genoa, where pesto originated, the best pesto is made from very young plants.
Last night we combined the pasta and pesto with some vegetables fresh from the farm (two farms, actually). I crushed three garlic cloves and sauteed them in olive oil over high heat with a handful of chopped green beans. When the beans were about half cooked, I added a sliced zucchini. I cooked everything together until all the vegetables were charred and crunchy. Then I mixed them in with the pasta and pesto. It was really, really delicious.
I’ve mentioned before that we belong to a CSA, Hesperides Organica, based in the Black Dirt region in nearby Warwick, NY. Every Wednesday from mid-June through November we pick up a large carton of fresh and delicious vegetables. The zucchini came from the CSA; it was most likely picked on Tuesday. The green beans came from a new farmer’s market that opened yesterday in FairLawn. For the rest of the summer, there will be a small farmer’s market in the parking lot of the New Song Church on FairLawn Avenue every Wednesday from 11-6. Check it out. In addition to the beans, we got lovely, fragrant peaches there yesterday.