Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Paty's Pesto Pasta

I have grew fond of basil ever since I got my own organic plant from the Slow Food Beirut Earth Market and I have incorporated it more in my diet as it's pretty easy to cut some fresh leaves off and add them on a pizza slice, in a salad, in a pasta dish or in my zaatar sandwich! Nevertheless, 2 weeks back, Samson from work [photo below] came in with large amounts of basil he had planted in front of his office. Needless to say, the whole department gathered to take their share!

Nadera, Darine and Samson picking their basil plants to eat!
So Why Basil?

Basil has an amazing frangrance so having it around your house, balcony or garden is a definite plus. In fact, basil's generic name is Ocimum which means "smell" in Greek.

Basil is a plant low in calories, with almost no fat, rich in vitamin K as well as a good source of iron, calcium, vitamin A, magnesium and manganese. Because it's rich in antioxidants, mainly flavonoids, basil leaves have been found to provide protection for your body at the cellular level, protecting your chromosomes from radiation and oxidation. Moreover, basil volatile oils have anti-bacterial properties, thus restricting the growth of unwanted bacteria, even antobiotic resistant ones! Basil also has anti-inflammatory properties so it kinda acts like your natural advil or ibuprofen, even good for arthritis! Now I bet you never knew how awesome those basil leaves in your pesto dish were!

Of course, basil's health benefits are awesome, but an extra reason to adopt yourself one of those babies is how easy it is to grow! I got mine already planted (even easier) and all i do is show is some sun and drizzle it with water every other day now that the weather is a bit cooler. Keep in mind that basil plants love both heat and water. Now there are different ways to plant your basil plant: you can either get an already planted baby basil plant (just like I did) or you can get those black mature seeds you see in the photo below and plant them shallowly into the soil - constantly watering them. Another way would be growing your basil from cuttings: You can cut a 8-10 cm portion of the stem before it flowers, remove the leaves from the lower section, place it in a small cup of water and change its water daily until its roots emerge! Then just move it a small pot and water daily if the weather is really hot or every other day if it's slightly cooler.

Given that basil is mainly known for its use in pesto [and that I absolutely adore this easy yet so tasty combo], I decided to turn all my basil leaves into pesto sauce and refrigerate them. If you're not a fan of pesto, then a smart way to preserve basil leaves is to dry /freeze them  as whole leaves to preserve as much essential oils as possible. Then you can sprinkle them with your food, rice, salad, pasta, pizza, you name it! I have to admit though, drying is not the best option if you savor the taste and smell of this plant.

Time for Pesto!

To prepare 2 to 2.5 cups of pesto sauce, you will need:
  • 3 medium cloves of fresh garlic
  • 4 cups of lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup raw pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Method of Preparation

  • Separate all basil leaves from the stems
  • Wash them up from any soil residue
  • Remove any seriously injured or blemished leaves
  • Dry the wet leaves by spreading them on a clean piece of cloth and turning them over now and then to speed up the drying process
  • Put all the ingredients {basil leaves, garlic cloves, nuts, and salt} all together in your food processor and pulse till you get a coarse paste.
  • Drizzle the oil through the food processor's feeding tube while mixing, in order to get the oil completely blend in with the paste.  

Note that if you don't have a food processor at home and you'd like to prepare a quick fix, it's kind of easy! Just grind all those babies together manually [using a wooden garlic masher] and you'll get an even better texture than the food processor.

I stored my basil in 2 different ways
  • The first was using an ice cube tray. I first measured how much each cube is, mine turned out to be 2.5 tbsp > Once you place your paste in the tray, drizzle the surface with olive oil > Cover the tray and place the tray overnight in the freezer > The next day, just place all frozen cubes in an airtight container or plastic freezer bags and store in the freezer for up to 9 months! This is a great idea if you might be having 1-2 dishes of pesto instead of huge quantities, this way you'll defrost exactly the amount you need!
  • The other option is to freeze basil in small jars > Label > Store for up to 9-12 months
In case you don't plan to freeze, make sure to make smaller quantities as these are safely stored in the fridge for up to one week only.

Paty's Pesto Pasta is pretty easy to prepare. Get your pesto sauce, mix with some pasta and voila! If you're into cheese, combining it with some grated Parmesan cheese is recommended, but if you're vegan, it would be smart to sprinkle some nutritional yeast to get a somewhat cheesy taste! Garnish with whole fresh basil leaves and some whole raw pine nut seeds, and you've got a delicious winner here!

World's Healthiest Foods
Medical News Today
Herb Society


  1. Thank you so much! We need such food a lot. thank you
    we always wait for new stuff.
    thank you, we are so grateful.
    And when i saw the label 'Paty's Yum Pesto OCt 05 2013' i thought it is there in the market, that would be nice.

  2. this llooks good, i will try it soon

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