Basil is a heat-loving annual. Since September brings colder weather, this Mediterranean native, starts to decline. You’ll see the edges start to turn black the closer we get to frost.
So during these next days and weeks, harvest as much as you can from the plants in the garden (or as a local gardener to harvest from them).
Here’s the basic recipe:
• Freshly picked basil
• Nuts of some kind (pine, walnut, almond, pecan)
• Olive Oil
Put basil, nuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor and drizzle with oil while blending. Add more oil or other ingredients to desired consistency and taste.
This recipe is super simple and vegan. The traditional recipe calls for Parmesan cheese, which is delicious, but some folks are sensitive to dairy. If you use the cheese, cut back on the salt.
But, hold on, here’s where the wild part comes in. Consider adding in fresh wild greens to enhance the nutritional and medicinal benefits. I usually add just a one or two leaves so as to maintain the basil flavor.
• Dandelion greens (will add some bitterness so taste as you go)
• Chickweed (very soft-bodied with a neutral flavor so it’s perfect for this use)
• Wood Sorrel (lovely sour flavor)
• Nettle (nutritionally dense and looses its sting once it’s blended – make sure to wear gloves when harvesting)
The trick with this is to experiment.
Serve over pasta or with crackers. Pesto freezes well and you’ll thank yourself mid-winter.
Lee Warren is a homesteader, herbalist, writer and the manager of Imani Farm, a pasture-based cooperative farm at Earthaven Ecovillage. She is also a co-founder of the Village Terraces CoHousing Neighborhood and the Program Coordinator for the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference (sewisewomen.com).