I have a confession. I left my basil to die in the first frost last fall. It wasn’t entirely my fault. I had a chemistry class that I just did not see eye to eye with. It was my last semester before graduation. And I thought there was more time. In my mind, that frost came early. Early, early. I’m sure it came about at the usual time for these things, but it just caught me so off guard. We’d used a good amount of the basil in marinara sauces, on pizza, and in fresh tomato sauce. But it wasn’t enough. I felt like a criminal when I woke up to the plants, black and shriveled, outside my window. So this year I started early. Only partly because I have twice the plants I had last year and that means twice the guilt… This is my aunt’s recipe, with minor tweaks. ImageThis is one of our gardens. With Mini, who likes getting her picture taken as much as I do. 

You are going to need:

5-6 cups of basil leaves, cleaned

4-8 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Small handful of cashews (if you like to measure, 1/3 cup)

Small handful of grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/3 cup)

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

2-3 Tablespoons of good olive oil



Put the basil in a food processor and pulse until it’s chopped, like this. Image

Add the garlic. Make sure you drop it in, while the food processor is running. They bounce all around in there and get chopped up really nice, instead of hanging out in the corner and mocking you. Add the salt and pepper, then the handful of cashews and Parmesan. You will get something that looks like this. Image

Zest the lemon, give it a good massage to loosen things up, and juice it into the processor. Image

Yes, I’m aware my Microplane is broken and dangerous, but the new one I bought just doesn’t have the same blade. And while I’m on gadgets, have you ever seen one of these little orange things? I have no idea where I got it, but if you see one, pick it up. It’s magic. Image

You just stick it in the lemon and you have your own little squeeze bottle, that even catches the seeds. Image

Add olive oil in a slow stream with the processor running. You might want to add more or less than the amount I’ve given. ImageIf you leave it a bit drier, it’s great with crackers. A little bit oilier is better for pasta. I made this recipe earlier in the day, and added to it, so you should get about half the amount shown here. Image

When you’re done, top it with some olive oil so it doesn’t discolor and sit back knowing you have magic in  your fridge. Yeah. Magic. Image

Seriously. Put some of this on the insides of a grilled cheese or panini. Mix it with some greek yogurt and use it in a wrap. Put it on homemade pizza dough and top it with mozzarella and tomato slices. Or just spread it on a piece of bread and eat it while no one is looking.