Grow Sweet Basil and Make Avocado Basil Pesto!

Few endeavors are as rewarding as gardening. It provides exercise and a reason to get outdoors — not to mention gardening has been proven to help folks de-stress, teaches patience and provides better sleep; it saves money on the food bill, plus it offers home-grown nutrition!

Growing a garden takes an investment of time, not to mention space. Even if your living quarters (or life!) doesn’t allow for this luxury, you still have an option.

Grow sweet basil!

The conversion ratio for dried basil in a recipe is 1 teaspoon dried = 1 tablespoon fresh. Credit: antigone78, Flickr.
The conversion ratio for dried basil in a recipe is 1 teaspoon dried = 1 tablespoon fresh. Credit: antigone78, Flickr.

All you need is one itty-bitty corner of a sunny balcony or a windowsill in which you can stash a clay pot. Basil is easy to grow and the one plant that can give you loads of culinary satisfaction.

A little olive oil and fresh basil can make even the most flavorless tomato come to life. Add ribbons of this fragrant herb to fresh summer soup, chop and toss with your garden salad or liven up a pizza with the whole leaves.

Sweet basil pairs well with chicken, eggplant, eggs, fish, potatoes, zucchini — well hell, just about everything! It is the most versatile herb and one you will definitely enjoy.

For the granddaddy of basil recipes, whip together a batch of basil pesto. It requires only a blender or a food processor and makes meal prep a snap; plus, you’ll get the satisfaction of growing some of your own food.

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The addition of avocado in the following recipe makes it more filling than traditional pine nut pesto. Serve it over pasta for a simple summer meal, add boiled shrimp to make it more filling, or go vegetarian with fresh zucchini spirals and diced tomato.

You can support your local farmers’ market for all your other fresh, organic veggies needs, but get down with Mother Nature and grow sweet basil.

Avocado Basil Pesto

Prep time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 4

The addition of protein-rich shrimp makes this heart-healthy meal perfectly balanced.
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoon Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Blend avocado, lemon juice, basil, Romano cheese and garlic until smooth.
  2. Add olive oil in a slow stream to incorporate. Process until creamy.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 What’s your favorite use for basil? This blueberry, goat cheese and basil pie is to die for! —Karen


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