by Laura Waters, Snowdon House Gourmet & Gifts –
As the days get longer, I start to spend more time in my garden, looking for signs that my perennials and bulbs are returning. I love this time of year when everything starts to wake up; I get such enjoyment in reaping the rewards of yesterday’s efforts. Through most of the winter I have been thumbing through seed catalogues and books, wondering what I will plant this year. What new varieties shall I try? Since November we have been hauling buckets full of coffee grounds from a local coffee shop to add to my compost pile. Who knew one coffee shop could produce so many grounds? It makes me wonder how much coffee waste is taken to the landfill. (For more on this see story page 35.) We have accumulated a pile five feet long and two feet high. I haul the chicken manure, old leaves and coffee grounds to my greenhouse beds, topping them up for another growing season. As I unload the materials into the beds it is teeming with worms and mycelium; it is going to be the perfect material to plant in. The chickens also think this is great stuff – my two legged roto-tillers are hard at work. I only wish they would leave more material in the beds than they scoop out and learn some basics, like the difference between irises and weeds. Roma tomatoes planted with basil already exude an intoxicating aroma. The thought of hot bread topped with fragrant basil pesto and garden-fresh tomatoes is delightful. While anticipating the summer harvest, we can use the fresh basil plants that are starting to arrive in the supermarkets to create a tasty fresh basil pesto.
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
½ cup parmesan cheese (I like the parmesan petals). For a vegan alternative, use 3 tbsp nutritional yeast instead
½ cup extra virgin
½ cup walnuts (I find pine nuts too expensive; you can also use pumpkin or
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 tsp)
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Process the basil, nuts, lemon juice and garlic in your blender or food processor till coarsely ground. With the motor running drizzle the olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste and parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast till combined. Slice some fresh hot bread, spread with pesto and top with sliced ripe tomatoes!
Place basil pesto on top of chicken breasts or thighs and bake at 350° for 45 minutes to an hour and serve with noodles or garden potatoes. Enjoy!