June 27, 2010
This weekend I slowly perused the outdoor market in Rittenhouse Square Park taking in the sights and smells. The produce from local farmers was plentiful: pints of bright yellow, orange and red heirloom tomatoes; ripe, deep purple blueberries; zucchini and squash in all sorts of twisted shapes and sizes. Indulgent baked goods -- sweet breads, oversized cookies, loaves of dough stuffed with pepperoni and cheese -- beckoned to be bought and consumed on the spot. The variety of fresh local cheeses all looked so rich and creamy that I wished I could bring a generous hunk of each home....
Despite the many temptations waiting under each crisp, white tent, I gravitated toward only one item: a large, leafy bright green basil plant sitting in a small cup of dirt. I could smell the plant's slightly tart, slightly citrusy aroma from a few feet away. I knew this plant would be coming home with me.
I snugly tucked the rather large plant in my shoulder bag and proceeded to do a few more hours worth of shopping around town. I am pretty sure that the looks I got at Anthropologie and City Sports had more to do with the giant tree I had growing out from under my shoulder than anything else.
Later, when I got home, I plucked off almost every leaf and used it to make this bright, fragrant, and summery pesto. Then, I potted the plant, gave it a little love, and asked it to sprout some more leaves as soon as possible.
Fresh Basil Pesto: (makes a little over 1 cup)
4 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden and fragrant
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 ounces)
2 large garlic cloves
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil