Doesn’t it feel like summer has arrived when the farmers’ market is full of basil, tomatoes, corn, and squash? A few Saturdays ago, S and I headed to the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market (more on that in a second) at the absurd hour of 7 o’clock am, and I swear you could smell the basil in the air. It’s minty fresh fragrance lured me into taking home a bagful. The smell of basil makes me want to fire up the grill, invite some friends over, and sit around the table sharing stories until the sun has sunk below the horizon and the mosquito bites start to itch. Aaah, summertime.
At home later I wondered what I was going to do with all that basil. There were a lot of possibilities but in the end we settled on pesto. It took all of 5 minutes to make it. Grating the Parmesan cheese was the most time consuming step (especially after a few nibbles of the grated cheese). A few whizzes of the food processor and we had a beautifully verdant pesto ready for the freezer.
We mixed our freshly made pesto in penne for a light and fresh dinner. The rest we froze to save for a cold winter’s night. It will be the perfect reminder of summer.
Now for a few words on the aforementioned Matthews Community Farmers’ Market — I’ve been to A LOT of farmers’ markets in my day, and I have to say that this one is among the best. It’s all local producers so when you buy that tomato or ear of corn you can feel proud knowing that you are supporting local farmers (having grown up on a farm, I can tell you how important this is). Also, you are buying your food only hours after it was harvested. It’s about as fresh as you can get unless you grow it yourself. You can get everything from eggs to peppers to the best goat cheese all in one stop. The farmers’ market is also open throughout the summer and winter. I’m looking forward to a whole year of fresh produce. Its quaint, small-town location and early morning hours (the opening bell rings at 7:15) add to its charm. Check out their website and sign up for the newsletter. It’s the best way to start the weekend.
Joy of Cooking
1. Combine in a food processor and process to a rough paste:
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
With the machine running slowly add:
1/2 cup olive oil, or as needed
If the pesto seems dry (it should be a thick paste), add a little more olive oil. Season to taste with:
Salt and black pepper
Use immediately, or pour a very thin film of olive oil over the top, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.