Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fresh from the garden

After a day freezing in an air-conditioned office looking out at the blue sky and watching school kids on holiday saunter by without a care in the world (so it would seem anyway!) wearing next-to-nothing, I was delighted to get home and out into the garden. Now I would love to paint an image of me sitting in an idyllic English country garden with lush green grass, rambling roses and forget-me-nots, however that would be a lie, after all I am now in Canada where we have had scorching sun for the past two months and are now on Stage 3 water restrictions (which really just means absolutely no excess use of water at all – even the paddling pool has been relegated back to the garage to collect dust, as it is not allowed to be filled). Instead what we have is some very seriously dead grass, our cedar hedge - which is starting to fill in nicely - and a few plants that we are allowed to water, which thankfully include a blueberry plant, 3 tomato plants, 10 chilli plants and 2 beds of herbs.

Ordinarily the herbs and fruit and vegetable plants are my pride and joy (I leave everything else to Mr. Vanilla) but this year is an exception. With 3 months of morning, day and evening sickness I honestly couldn’t have cared less about them. The only reason they have survived is due to Mr. Vanilla lovingly watering them every day - how thankful I was of that yesterday as we were picking the basil. After only five minutes of plucking we had a large enough bowl of fresh basil leaves to make a generous batch of pesto for the two of us. It was mainly sweet basil but there was also a little lemon basil and Thai basil thrown in for a touch of variety. Added to the bowl were some fresh pansies (which I grew especially for my salads and anything else that I wanted to add some colour and a slightly over-the-top look to) and about 10 or 11 fresh cherry tomatoes, straight off the vine having basked in the sun long enough. It doesn’t get much better than that and that is why I love summer. On the menu tonight: a steaming bowl of linguine with ‘fresh from the garden basil pesto’ and sun-kissed tomatoes –the perfect meal for 2 on a warm summer evening.

Linguine with Fresh From the Garden Basil Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes
{Serves 4}

85g/ 4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
45g/ 1/3 cup pine nuts
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Juice of ½ large, juicy lemon
125ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper (I like to use Maldon sea salt)
A good handful of parmesan cheese, finely grated

To serve:
400g linguine
10 cherry tomatoes, halved (or more if you prefer - that's all I had)
Scattering of extra pine nuts
Few fresh basil leaves

In a dry frying pan, gently toast the pine nuts until just golden. Set aside and leave to cool. Put the basil and garlic in a food processor then add the cooled pine nuts along with the lemon juice, olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth then transfer into a small bowl or jar. Stir in the parmesan then taste to check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Cook the linguine in a large pan of boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions. Drain the pasta once it is ready, reserving a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water. Add the pesto to the pasta with the water which will thin the pesto slightly and help it cling perfectly to every strand of linguine. Toss in the halved cherry tomatoes and serve at once scattered with a few extra pine nuts and fresh basil leaves.

*Put any left over pesto into a jar and top with some extra olive oil and keep in the fridge.


  1. Woohoo I'm the first to comment! The blog looks wonderful Lynds and I can't wait to try that pesto! We have a bunch of basil in the garden :)


  2. The BLOG looks and reads good. I'm impressed. Best of luck with it.
    Steve McK

    Great reading lynds. So true - we had freshly picked toms. from the greenhouse tonight with mozarella - sadly not from our own buffalo! Looking forward to more recipes. Sandra x


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...