Pestorama (or recipes and ideas for when you have an excess of home gown basil)

Different cultures around the world have different definitions of adulthood. There are numerous age qualifications, rituals and ceremonies that mark the passage from childhood into the world of grown-ups. Personally speaking I think that life events are a more accurate way of measuring adulthood than some arbitrarily set number of years you’ve been on the planet. For example, looking back I definitely don’t think that I was a fully fledged adult the day I turned 18. Turbocharged teenager with a car and an ability to legally drink would be a more accurate description.

More indicative of my progression from unruly youth to real-life actual grown-up has been my ability to be in a happily committed, long-term relationship and, with the help of my amazing partner, raise a happy, healthy little herb garden. Scoff at this if you will, but how many of the people you know in their late teens to early 20’s that have the ability to care for themselves properly, let along another living thing. I rest my case.

As it so happens we’ve been adulting so hard lately that not only have we been able to keep all of our plants alive for an extended period of time but our humble little courtyard herbery has, dare I say it, actually been flourishing. Our basil plants in particular have been going crazy to the extent that they were in need of a good trim to tame them. As a result we suddenly had an excess supply of amazing, fresh basil leaves, and what else is one to do in such situations but make a large batch of homemade pesto? (see the bottom of this post for the pesto recipe)

Having concocted a large batch of fantastic pesto that, being freshly homemade didn’t have a long shelf-life, we then had to come up with a variety of different ways of putting it to good use. It’s first outing was at breakfast the following day when we slathered it on some toasted rye bread and popped a couple of runny poached eggs on top. Delish! A few days later we gave it a dinner incarnation by stirring it through some spaghettini with some peas and chopped fresh mint and then grating some romano over the top.

Some people dread the ageing process, but for me it just means that I develop a better appreciation for the simple, more fundamental things in life. I know it sounds a bit lame, but it really does give me a great sense of satisfaction to be able to nip out the back to snip off a few fresh herbs to throw into whatever it is that I’m cooking up at any given moment. It allows you to be that little bit more flexible and creative and they taste amazing! If this is what getting old means then bring it on I say! Just imagine what kind of kick ass herb garden we’ll have by the time I’m 135!

Pesto Matto (from Gourmettraveller.com)


  • 40 gm each pine nuts and almond flakes, lightly toasted, plus extra to serve
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves picked, some reserved for serving (optional) – we added some mint and oregano for good measure as well {as our herb garden is doing that well, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that yet}
  • ½ bunch each flat-leaf parsley and mint, leaves picked
  • 4 anchovy fillets 2garlic cloves
  • 50 gm each pecorino and Grana Padano, finely grated
  • 180 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • ½ lemon, finely grated rind and juice only

Process nuts, herbs, anchovies and garlic until coarsely chopped. Add cheeses and, with motor running, gradually add oil to combine. Add lemon rind and juice and pulse to combine, then season to taste and set aside.

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