Mum's stash of fresh basil

My crop of basil has been a bit of a flop this year, but thankfully my mother’s hasn’t, as we’ve reaped the rewards of her herby green fingers. She gave us a huge bag full of basil leaves which I then turned into the yummiest pesto imagineable (in my humble opinion).

Made with grated romano cheese, toasted pine nuts, a pinch of salt, olive oil, and the de-stalked basil leaves, it’s perfect for tossing through pasta, or for making bruschetta. We’ve made both, and the boys have scoffed down each meal with delight declaring it their ‘favourite’ ever.

Homemade Bruschetta for lunch - a simple feast much loved by kids

There’s really no comparison to the shop-bought version of pesto – it tastes so fresh, so basil-y , and so each summer we binge on pesto inspired dishes paired with the tomatoes that are ripening at around the same time. Making pesto is a great for kids to get involved with – ripping the leaves off the plant, grating the cheese, whizzing the whizzer (that’s our family’s technical term for utilising the food processor) and taste testing are all fun and achievable activities for them.

Our home-made pesto - basil leaves, grated romano cheese, toasted pine nuts and olive oil

Basil is a great companion plant for tomatoes – my mother’s hothouse is brimming with both. A month or two ago I planted basil seedlings in a container, and in a sunny patch of earth outside in our new garden. Neither site made for happy plants – I think the containers suffered from a lack of attention from me, and the patch outside needs some work doing on the soil for next year. The current soil isn’t retaining waiter and has a brittle, sandy texture – luckily there are children around the corner selling pony poo – so I’ll get some manure to age and then dress the beds with it over the coming months.

A little bit of hard labour in the garden will be more than worth it if at the same time next year we’re enjoying another pesto-fest with our own home grown basil (though I’ll still be more than happy to accept Mum’s green basil gifts!).

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