A reward of weeding around basil plants is that you get to smell the fresh, spicy scent of the basil leaves while you are weeding. At least that is what I was thinking as I was weeding and shooing away mosquitoes yesterday. And one of the best rewards of growing basil is making and eating pesto. Not only does basil smell wonderful, but it tastes great, especially when mixed with garlic, nuts, and Parmesan cheese. The pesto recipe I posted below calls for both basil and parsley, bright green herbs with lots of health benefits. According to www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266425.php, basil is full of antioxidants, minerals such as magnesium, and vitamins, mainly vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Basil also is known to reduce inflammation and to have antibacterial properties. Parsley is very beneficial to eat as well. The website www.nutrition-and-you.com/parsley.html states that parsley is high in minerals like potassium and calcium, and like basil, it has high concentrations of vitamins A, C, and especially K.
Pesto is a great way to get those vitamins and minerals, and it offers variety. You can mix pesto with pasta for a meal, or you can spread it on crackers for a delicious snack. The nuts in the pesto add to its nutritional quality too–they add protein and the “good” (unsaturated) fats. I usually use almonds, but pine nuts are a traditional nut to use, and I have also used walnuts too. Now that basil is in full swing here, we will be using our blender to mix up batches of pesto! Pesto freezes well, but to me it tastes best the day it is made. If you know ahead of time that you are going to freeze it, a fellow food blogger gave me this tip to reduce bitterness when freezing: Leave out the cheese when you are processing the rest of the ingredients, and freeze the pesto without the cheese. Then when you defrost/thaw the pesto, add the cheese.