A Pesto Day - Basil Pesto

The love of food is such a journey. Often we find ourselves deviating from the main track to head down a curious side road. Sometimes this leads to something new and undiscovered, other times it leads to a dead end and we turn back to what is familiar. In our enthusiasm to tap into what is new, we can often sacrifice that which has stood the test of time. Constantly I am reminded, that nothing will ever replace the simple genius of the seasons, when it comes to growing and cooking food.

After writing, publishing, marketing and selling my cookbook Naked Food over the past three years, I afforded myself a lovely season of rest, a three month long, camping road trip across Australia. I learnt again the art of living a simple life, of doing nothing, of having space in my days to choose what I would like to do. I found myself connecting again with the seasons and the beauty of the world around me. In a childlike way I saw things as if for the first time, they had always been there for me to see, but I had, had no time or patience to observe them.

On returning home, it was with some trepidation that I walked out to my much loved vegetable patch for the first time, after my long absence. Gardening is therapy for me and the joy of brightly coloured flowers and harvesting your own food, is an unsurpassed reward. My garden had, had no love over the summer season, I had done my best to leave it in a manageable state, with two beds planted out with summer crops of basil and tomatoes and the other two beds lying fallow, having a rest just like me. I had resigned myself to the idea, that my patch would need some serious love and attention on my return. I was not expecting there to be anything still left living, certainly nothing to harvest. To my surprise and joy the basil was flourishing, the tomatoes were continuing to fruit, left to have their own way in the height of ‘their season’, they seemed to be thriving on neglect!

I had heard of many people having Passata days, where they harvest all their summer tomato crop and make batches of tomato Passata (sauce) to store for the winter months, when tomatoes are no longer in season and too expensive to source. It is an activity most common to the Italian culture. Since my glut was basil, not tomatoes, I decided to gather some friends and with my abundance of basil have a Pesto day. The first day was such a combination of fun, learning, laughter and productivity, that since there was still more basil in the garden, I planned another day too. We picked the basil, measured and chopped ingredients, made jars and jars of pesto and finished with a delicious shared table lunch together, which of course included pesto. Everybody left with a jar of pesto and some extra laugh lines on their faces, we had rediscovered the simple of joy of the seasons.

It was my great privilege to have my friend Luisa Brimble and her daughter Poppy, join us on the second Pesto day. Luisa is a Sydney based food and lifestyle photographer, she has an amazing talent for capturing a moment and telling a story through her camera lens, I hope her images in this post have bought the day alive for you too! 
Luisa Brimble Photography

Pesto is a sauce which originated in the Liguria region of northern Italy. It is traditionally made using a mortar and pestle, but this is my quick and easy version in the food processor. Pesto has so much versatility, whether it is tossed through hot pasta, added to savoury breakfast dishes or used as a spread on sandwiches and wraps.

makes about 1 cup
what you need
1/4 cup (40g) pine nuts
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 cup basil leaves (firmly packed)
2/3 cup (50g) freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil

what you do
1. Place the pine nuts and garlic into a food processor and process until they form a creamy consistency.
2. Add the basil leaves and process until well chopped, then with the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream until combined. Finally add the parmesan and process until combined.

Storage: Transfer to a glass container. If not using immediately, cover the surface with a thin film of oil. Cover tightly and store in the fridge for up to one week.
Jane Grover – Recipe from ‘NAKED FOOD the way food was meant to be’