I look forward to basil growing in my garden all year long. It never ceases to surprise me the way my yard and garden always seem to accelerate in the first week of July. I’m sure there’s some sort of science as to why or maybe it’s just the combination of water, sunshine and fertilizer finally doing it’s job. Regardless it delights me, especially this year where we happened to be out of town for a few days and upon my return I got to walk out to my garden and see that my basil plants had tripled in size in just a few days.
I make batch after batch of basil pesto in the summer. I keep some in the refrigerator for sandwiches or a quick pot of noodles for my kids and freeze the rest in small jars to take me through the winter.
One snack /lunch/appetizer/dinner I love is a basil pesto and tomato sandwich. I grab the jar of fresh pesto from my fridge and slice up an heirloom tomato. I layer the pesto on bread; sometimes it’s whole wheat sourdough other times it’s a baguette. I top the pesto with thick slices of tomato and salt and pepper liberally. I always pull out the good flakey sea salt for this. I shred a little fresh mozzarella over the top and pop the whole thing into the oven set on broil for 2 minutes until the cheese melts and the tomatoes soften a tiny bit. Other times I top with another slice of bread to make a grilled sandwich.
If you don’t have basil growing in your yard, no problem. You can buy basil leaves at the grocery store or the Farmer’s Market. If making pesto isn’t your thing, no problem. Buy a jar of pre-made pesto at the grocery store and you can still make this delicious sandwich.
Quick Basil Pesto:
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt and
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
In a food processor, pulse the basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt and pepper a few times to break down the ingredients. Turn the food processor back on and drizzle in the olive oil, when the ingredients are well mixed, add in the parmesan cheese and pulse a few more times until completely combined. Make sure to taste the pesto and adjust ingredients if needed. Add more salt if the pesto is bland or more olive oil if you like a thinner sauce. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator or store in the freezer.