There is a freeze warning in effect for Saturday morning and if the forecast holds up, it will mean an abrupt end to the growing season for a lot of us in the northeast.  In some ways, I would prefer the decisive finality of a hard frost—nothing to do but clean up afterwards—but because we still have fruit on the vine, I hope that the mercury does not drop below freezing (or, if it does, it is not for very long).

Just in case, we will start harvesting whatever is ripe or nearly so.  We have one yellow bell pepper that is ready to go and two Trucker’s Favorite tomatoes that although not fully red are far enough along to make a nice addition to tonight’s salad (they will go nicely with watercress and radishes).

The most sensitive plant remaining in the garden is the basil.  To head off what would be a catastrophic loss, we clear-cut the entire patch, leaving behind an orderly grid of stubby stems that only Morticia could love.  It also left us with a big bowlful of basil leaves.  What to do with them?  What else?  We made pesto, our go-to recipe for basil.

Actually, I should say that Rachel made pesto; I pulled the leaves off the stems (and took pictures).  She prepared two types:  one with all green basil, parmesan cheese and walnuts; the other with a mix of green and Red Rubin (i.e., purple) basil, pecorino cheese and almonds.  The variations in the ingredients make for finished pestos (pestoes?  pesti?) of intriguingly different flavors, colors and textures.

Since we started to grow basil in quantity and with some success (it did wonderfully well this year), I have come to appreciate what a versatile and delicious food pesto is.  Besides its common use as a sauce for pasta (greatly improved by the addition of a small volume of pasta cooking water), pesto can be added to soups, spread on vegetables before (or after) grilling, used like mayonnaise on sandwiches and heaped on crostini or bruschetta.

Pesto is also good plain and by itself, eaten straight from the food processor.  This is not unlike snacking on spoonfuls of peanut butter taken directly from the jar (often, while standing in front of the open refrigerator).  Depending on its consistency (we like ours fairly tight), pesto doesn’t stick as badly to the roof of your mouth but it does leave little specks of green on your teeth.

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