Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Garden Variety

Last night we had a delicious Spinach Basil Pesto, made with basil from our garden. It turned out much better than some other basil dishes we had earlier in the year. That's because earlier this year I was actually cutting Impatiens from our garden, not basil.


This summer was my first attempt at a garden. We planted several pots of herbs, and, because we had leftover soil and pots, also planted a few flowers. Everything was from seed, so I was excited to see what the plants would look like as they grew. The basil was doing well, and so were my flowers.

After a few weeks, the basil looked old enough to cut, as a garnish for our pizza or spaghetti. It didn't add very much flavor, though. I was disappointed.

Time passed.

I noticed that my flowers were looking more and more like my basil. In fact, basil seemed to be springing up in all of my pots. Then I noticed that there were 2 subtly different looking plants growing in my basil pot.

And that's when I knew: some of these plants were not basil. And I was pretty sure whatever wasn't basil was Impatiens. Finally, turning on my Cub Scout Commissioner/Forestry Merit Badge Counselor skills, I noted that one of the plants had "opposite" growing leaves and the other had "alternate" growing leaves - one of the basic traits to look for in plant identification. A few Google searches confirmed that we had been eating our Impatiens as garnish.

So last night, I was confident that it was basil I snipped and put into this lovely recipe.

Spinach Pesto

10 ounces torn spinach leaves
2 garlic cloves, halved
3 tablespoons pine nuts (I didn't used these)
3 bunches fresh basil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. salt
hot, cooked linguini

Place a few spinach leaves, garlic, pine nuts, basil and a little oil in blender or food processor container. Cover and puree until leaves begin to look crushed. Continue adding spinach leaves a few at a time with small amounts of oil to blender, using a rubber spatula to help to combine pureed mixture. Add Parmesan cheese and 1/8 tsp. salt. Cover and process until spinach pesto mixture is smooth.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain in colander. Serve with the spinach pesto sauce.

I also added sauteed mushrooms.


amydear said...

Ah ha ha! I love this story. Glad you figured it out, and that impatiens are not poisonous. I will be making pesto this week -- perhaps with this recipe.

tpmotd said...

Did you happen to notice this line in the Wikipedia article? "All Impatiens taste bitter and seem to be slightly toxic upon ingestion, causing intestinal ailments like vomiting and diarrhea." Real basil would definitely be better than that!

Dawn said...

Did the fake basil have blossoms? Like..um...impatiens do? Your stories always make me smile..or laugh out loud!

Sarah said...