Sunday, September 12, 2010


I have planter of basil in my yard.  One.  And even though I have an enormous amount of pesto in my fridge, and the plant still looks like this:

You can see how dry it's been - I watered this this morning

I cut it back almost every day, and over night it grows back to frightening heights, and I just want to say that plants like this scare me.  It's all a little alien - like if we don't pay close attention they might just take over.  Grass is like this; grass grows through blacktop.  Freaky.  Let's just say I'm looking forward to the winter months when things are dormant.  In the meantime, I'm making pesto as fast as I can.  Since my daughter can't eat pine nuts, I usually mash the basil up with garlic and oil and call it a day.  Sometimes I add cheese, sometimes I don't - however the other day, I added lemon and it was a revelation.

I've been using my little crock of lemon/basil pesto on EVERYTHING - from turkey sandwiches to scrambled eggs.

But the best thing, so far was slathering a tablespoon or so on these beautiful pork chops I picked up at the Farmer's Market and marinated.  Then I grilled them and heavens they were good!

Look at em:

I just ate lunch, and these still make me hungry

Aren't they beautiful?

Lemon Basil Pesto

Start with a fistful of basil from your yard (or the farmer's market) and strip all the leaves from the stems. Jam it all in your blender or food processor, or if you have one in the bowl of a stone mortar.  Add at least one clove of raw garlic, and about a tablespoon of lemon zest (I used one large lemon).  Blend, pulse or pound all this together until it makes a paste.  Then squeeze the lemon into the basil paste and blend, pulse or stir.  Finally add about 1/4 cup of very very good extra virgin olive oil to the whole thing.  If you are blending or pulsing, add it slowly through the feed tube.  If you used a mortar then whisk it in until combined.  Taste the whole thing.  You can add some parmesan here if you like, about 1/4 cup grated, or, just sea salt.  Both are good.  Sometimes I just like just to add the salt - especially if I'm going to let it sit in the fridge for a while because the parmesan can kind of take over.  Always add a bit of pepper.  If you like a little zing - add about a 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes to the mixture before you blend, pulse or pound.  This keeps in the fridge for about 3 weeks or so.  You can also freeze this: put tablespoons of the pesto into ice cube trays, freeze for a couple of hours, then pop them out and put the cubes of pesto in a freezer bag.  Very yummy in the dead of winter when all you want is a shot of something really really green.

Pork Chops and Basil Pesto

So go get yourself some pork chops or lamb chops - they're good too with this. (Although I always feel like I have to sell a kidney or something to afford enough lamb for the 4 of us.)  Slather them with the pesto at least 2 hours before you grill them, or over night.

Heat the grill - I have a new charcoal grill that I'm in love with - I like to pile all the hot coals on one side of the grill so I have a really hot side (for searing) and a cooler side for the cooking.

By the way - if you make a small slit in the fat around the outer edge of the chop, your pork chops won't curl up when you grill them.  (I stole this tip from Cook's Illustrated).

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