Pesto from home grown basil

This has got to the best pesto. It is thick, flavoursome and it is all in the basil.

We grow our own basil which grows really well in Singapore. When the plants started overgrowing, I thought using them for pesto would be perfect.

This is as close as possible to the traditional pesto recipe except the use of salt. I used mixed pepper corns (Jamie Oliver’s) instead of salt for taste as we are no longer buying salt for the house with M eating salt with his food to a red alert for high blood.

So, making pesto is really easy once you have your fresh basil leaves. You could also buy those potted herbs from Cold Storage or NTUC FairPrice in Singapore. But you will need more than a pot of basil from the store for a jar of pesto, about half a cup, compressed.

Pesto is a great seasoning for dishes. You can have it with your fish over a pan, rice, pasta, bread or socca (you can make socca and use pesto as a spread or a dip).


What you will need: 

3 cups of basil leaves gently packed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup, sliced and roughly cut parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
1/8 teaspoon salt or none
Some peppercorn for taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or slightly more when you feel the mixture is too dry or not mixing well in the blender.
A blender

1. Combine half of the cheese with half the basil. Include all the nuts and garlic cloves. Add peppercorns (just a little, a pinch). Blend until nicely chopped.

2. Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the basil and cheese. Blend well. You might need to scrape down the sides again as the paste will be thick. By now, you’ll have the pleasant aroma of freshly chopped basil and cheese.

3. Add olive oil or if you have a blender with a open top for juicing, you may stream the olive oil in when the blender is running. You could add more olive oil if you wish to use the sauce for pastas or rice. Or you could keep the paste thick as a spread, dip or as a pizza/socca base. If you are making a lot more than required for storing, keep it as paste and just add olive oil when you are using it again to cook. Continue blending after adding olive oil until finely chopped. You don’t want to over process it.

4. Taste and add more salt or pepper, cheese or other ingredients where required.

Storing the pesto: 

Pesto needs to be stored in a small container, compressed to remove air pockets. They stay tasty and fresh for a few days in the fridge. You could add some olive oil over the surface, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Or freeze pesto if you wish to store for a few months.




Growing an edible garden in Singapore

Bear with me here as gardening terms are very new for me and I might be referring to the plant in non-gardener ways.

Singapore’s climate may not be suitable for many of my favourites. Tomatoes don’t seem to grow very well. Neither do snow peas. We could try long beans. Basil definitely grows perfectly in this weather.

Growing a home garden can be rewarding as you watch the plant grow. We realised that eggplants take a while for the vegetables to show. The plant grows up to 1 metre with flowers and the vegetable starts budding after two months or so.

Imagine our delight when we saw the little purple rounded base peeking out from one of the pods. When they grow, they really do grow, almost overnight. They grow so quickly from a little plant no more than the length of one’s little finger to larger than the palm.

I harvested one of them recently (after three and a half months from when we first planted it) as the plant was getting infested. So I removed the branches which were infected and the rest of the plant seems to be thriving well enough.