What to do in the heights of summer, when basil is a boon? Make pesto, of course! Since I personally love growing purple basil and because it was in such a plentiful supply at the farm, I wanted to see what would happen if I used purple basil to make purple pesto. Basil has a wonderful fragrance stored in its oils, so harnessing that fatty goodness was just too irresistible.
There are good fats and bad fats, or so they say, but the kind of fats I'm talking about is the kind that occurs naturally in plants, legumes, etc. Basil has an essential oil that is responsible for its unique perfume. Purple basil is especially lovely because it has that distinctive, delicate aroma with the benefits of anthocyanin, the purple-colored superfood stuff that makes things anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and even antidiabetic. The color of this pesto alone is enough for me to want to make it, but the health benefits are icing on the cake.
A quick note before you begin: if you use a blender or a food processor to make this recipe, it will not look as pretty as you think it will look for about the first five minutes. It will be an unappealing brown. This is okay! Give it a moment to settle into the oils and let the aeration calm down. The result will be a beautiful green that is specked with deep purple. This is a good lesson in having patience.
|Seriously this got cuter as it sat|
The cool thing about this particular pesto is that it uses peanuts, which are exponentially cheaper to get your hands on than pine nuts without sacrificing flavor. The result is a deeper, richer, almost spicier flavor profile than your average pesto, lending itself to the slight bitterness of the olive oil and the anise-like quality of the fresh basil. Any fatty nut or seed will do well in this application, but in all my years I think I prefer peanut pesto the most. Here's how to make it:
Pretty Purple Basil Pesto with Peanuts
- 1 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese, either dairy or non-dairy( Violife or the Trader Joe's brand both work extremely well in this!)
- 1/2 c peanuts, lightly toasted
- 2 c purple basil leaves, packed tight (I used two and a half small bunches)
- Good olive oil as needed; about a cup and change
- Salt & pepper to taste