Harvest is the best time of year to be happy to live in Ontario. Our soil and climate produce some wonderful things that are part of what makes this region so unique. It is of course more difficult to hold onto this geographical optimism in the middle of winter when we are wondering when the snow will end. In order to proactively kick those winter blues, I recommend making like a squirrel and saving up some of the harvest for winter. There are so many ways you can prepare fresh food to make them last into the winter (more to come!). One is to give yourself an easy and delicious Christmas present and whip up some red and green pesto. You can preserve it in jars if you want to be fancy (or make it into a DIY Christmas gift), but I find freezer bags work just fine.
You might know pesto as a pasta topping, but what I love about it is that both colours of pesto are so versatile and kick up any boring dish a few notches. For example, I have yet to find a sandwich I love more than one that contains pesto and caramelized onions. I’ve put both kinds of pesto on pizza and now find myself disappointed by regular pizza sauce. You can add a bit of oil to either make a punchy dip, or stir it into some mayo and have pesto mayo for a dip or spread. Once you’ve tasted your homemade pesto, I bet you’ll come up with lots of excuses to throw it into things.
2 cups of the FRESHEST basil you can get your hands on
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
½-2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor, adding the oil gradually. The amount of oil you add will depend on how thick you like your pesto.
2 cups sun (or oven) dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup walnuts or pine nuts, chopped
¾ cup of good olive oil
1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup basil
3-4 large cloves garlic
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
½ tsp salt
Water, as necessary
Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and give ‘em a good swirl. If the mixture is too pasty, add water as necessary, but don’t go crazy.