There is no fresher summer smell than basil. Every summer my mommy and I would harvest the basil Daddy had planted. We would carefully choose and scrub each leaf, and the scent of basil would infuse into our hands and our souls. I swear to you, I never feel more Italian then when we are harvesting basil for pesto.
This is where I learned ahimsa, or non-harming. My mother has great compassion for all living creatures. Every beetle, every spider, every caterpillar, you-name-the-little-bug found their way outside.
Every little one, every time. No effort was too big, no creature too small.
Mommy and I would take the freshest leaves, pack them into the blender with olive oil, rosemary, parmesan, pecorino, salt and pepper, toasted pecans, and garlic. Sunshine warmed leaves, browned garlic and rosemary infused olive oil, and cold, crisp cheeses. If you close your eyes really tight, you will feel like you are in Italia, sitting on the little stone piazza, the smells ticking your senses.
Frozen in large batches, the moment I open a container and close my eyes, in the dead of winter, I feel the warmth radiating and I’m little again, scooping creatures into my tiny hands to set free. Freeze yourself a little sunshine, preserve a memory, cultivate your compassion. Make some pesto.
Thistle Me Non-Traditional Basil Pesto
Rosemary and garlic infused basil pesto with a thistle addition.
- 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon ground thistle seed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat olive oil, rosemary, and garlic in a saucepan, until garlic cloves are browned. Set oil aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, add basil, garlic, and tossed pecans and pulse until thoroughly combined.
- Slowly add the cooled oil until well mixed and the pesto is smooth.
- Add cheeses, and blend.
- Add thistle, salt and pepper.
- If freezing, spoon mixture into a freezer-safe container and drizzle a bit of oil over the top.
- Enjoy in the heat of summer, cool of winter, or any season of love in between.
Adapted from Basil Pesto Recipe (any traditional will do!)
Thistle Me Not http://www.thistlemenot.com/