Pesto, the Platonic ideal.

This summer I bought three pounds of basil from Blanchard Mountain Farm with the goal of making a big batch of pesto to freeze and enjoy in the dark and foreboding days of winter. Boy am I glad I did!

The hilarious thing is that it’s not even officially winter, yet I’m almost out of my pesto. So much for saving it for gloomy times! But I can’t help it! It’s just so damn good. And really, very evocative.

When I eat a bowl of pesto pasta it’s like I can time travel. I can go back to that wonderful summer vibe with the sun on my face and the scent of basil filling my nose—and my heart. It’s a really, truly joyful fragrance.

The day I picked up the basil, I was a bit surprised (shocked!) when I saw just how much three pounds of basil actually is in terms of volume. The stuff is light, so the number of bags required to carry it away were many. At the time it seemed like an overwhelming amount. But in retrospect, I should have gotten 12 pounds or more and had an all-day pesto-making marathon. It would have been awesome. I’ll do that next summer for sure.

Another thing I remember about getting the basil was how amazing my car smelled on the way home from the farm. I can still conjure the scent of basil in my mind and the way it makes me feel. If I ever get back into perfume-making, I’m going to experiment with this herb. It’s a heavenly scent. It has a calming effect, like lavender. In the meantime, while I wait for summer to come around again, here’s a perfume with basil notes to try.

I just looked up the medicinal properties of basil. I’ve always thought of it as a plant with a holy and healing lineage, and indeed that seems to be the case. Basil helps with fatigue, inflammation, depression and anxiety. I think my brain must have known that I needed basil and induced a craving.

I don’t have any scientific proof, although some may exist, but I do really believe that we crave certain foods for a reason. I’m not talking about cravings for Cherry Garcia or frozen pizza. Although indulging the desire for those foods can certainly be a lot of fun. No, I’m talking about the times when you get very specific yearning for mushrooms, or chicken soup, or garlic, or dark leafy green vegetables. It’s like your body just knows that you need certain nutrients—and you feel instantly better after eating them.

That’s how it was with me and my big bowl of pesto today. I was like: “Yeah, baby. That’s just what the doctor ordered.”

If you’ve read a few of my posts, you’re probably noticing that I’m not big on recipes and that most of what I write isn’t super directive. It’s more like: I ate this thing for lunch today and here’s what it made me think of. I mean, you can research your own pesto recipe. It requires all of five ingredients and a blender.

One thing I will say, though. I think pesto can get a little too oily. I like my pesto on the drier, grainer side. So, whatever recipe you dig up, go light on the oil. You can always add more. Also: pesto freezes really well. So make a bunch and enjoy it throughout the year.

One thought on “Pesto, the Platonic ideal.

  1. I made it too from my pea patch grown basil. An Italian red spicy basil and the standard green variety. Well, I didn’t make enough and it’s all gone and it’s just early November. Next summer: The Marathon!


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