Monday, July 25, 2011

Rogue Valley Produce and Basil Pesto - Without Pine Nuts

Last week we travelled south to the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon. It was mainly a business trip but Shawn's family lives there so we were lucky to be able to visit with them while we were in the area.

It's late July and after a long spring here in the northwest, local produce is finally getting a move on! Shawn's mother Vicki and his stepfather Jim, have a beautiful piece of property scattered with fresh herbs, vegetables, fruit trees, flowers and grape vines. It's a little piece of paradise. You instantly relax when you arrive.

I brought my camera along with the intent to document some of my favourite things in Vicki's garden. A bit of photography practice for the photography challenged! I was also fortunate to leave with a big bag of fresh garlic and basil. You'll find the recipe for my Basil Pesto at the bottom of the post.

Enjoy the pictures. I hope they bring a bit of the beautiful Rogue Valley to your home. :)

English Ivy, wild Wine Grapes and tall Maple Trees create a secret hideaway down by the stream.
Fresh Garlic right from the ground - boy are we lucky!
Fragrant Garlic
Picture Perfect Pears :)
Lemon Balm - Vicki has giant bushes of this everywhere.
Patty Pan Squash
Fuzzy Peaches! 
Squash Blossoms 
Sunflowers - Do they make you as happy as they make me?
Tomatoes - Just a little more heat and they'll be ready to go!

Fragrant Sweet Peas
Wild Wine Grapes!! We don't know the varietal yet - we'll have to check back in the fall.
Cacti Blossoms - A gorgeous plant you wouldn't expect.
Shawn and nephew Wade picking apples :)
Apples - Just begging to be picked
Fields of Lavender
Fresh Basil
Fresh Basil,  bagged and ready to be taken home to make pesto! Without pine nuts that is. Pine nuts are like gold. Their price per ounce is ridiculous! I use either cashews or almonds and believe me, you won't notice the difference. The peppery basil and fragrant garlic are the stars of this pesto!

Basil Pesto without Pine Nuts

  • 2 cups of fresh basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of almonds or cashews
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup of olive oil (I use canola....gasp! I know! But it's cheaper and we still think the pesto is delicious)
  • 1/2 cup of grated aged parmesan cheese
  • *salt and pepper to taste (optional - I get enough salt from the nuts)
  1. Add basil, garlic, lemon juice, and nuts to a food processor. Pulse until chopped. While pulsing, pour the 1/2 cup of oil into the opening at the top of the food processor slowly. Process until smooth and all ingredients are fully incorporated. I always start with just a 1/2 cup of oil and add more gradually if the pesto needs it.
  2. Add the cheese and pulse 1 or 2 times for a few seconds.
  3. Serve on top of pasta, fresh bread (sandwiches) or pizza dough (pesto pizza). Remember with pesto - a little goes a long way :)