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She loved plants. Every time she was going to the market, she would come back with a small pot of green joy. In March it was tulips, in April small strawberry plants, in September chrysanthems. They weren’t all surviving for long, most lingered for a week or two and then faded away. Too much water, not enough water, too much sun in this corner of the house, not enough sun in the other room. I tried to explain her so many times that it was a waste of time, a waste of effort. She wouldn’t listen. Her small garden was taking up half of our living-room, we had to manouevre through the colourful pots and pick up dried flowers every hour of the day.

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Last week she came home with a fluffy pot of basil. She had tried to keep basil alive three times before and failed over and over again. I am going to cook him directly, she said in an apologetic voice. Pesto pasta for dinner?

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Walnuts and fresh basil leaves. Parmesan and olive oil. Pasta al dente. Extra parmesan on top. A leave or two for decoration. A walnut or two, for the show. The windows wide open, spring air heavy with singing birds. I’ll do the dishes I said, leaving her caressing the thorns of her small cactus. In the kitchen, a small plop of the basil was left in the pot. It still survives.

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Walnut Basil Pesto

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste

1. In a pan, toast the walnuts on medium heat, for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn. Remove the walnuts from the pan, and toast the garlic gloves in their skins for a couple of minutes. Once they are not burning any more, remove the skin from the garlic.

2. In a food processor, combine walnuts, garlic, basil leaves, parmesan, and lemon juice. Buzz for a minute, until the mixture starts coming together. Add gradually the olive oil, to reach the desired consistency. I like my pesto grainy and not too oily, as pictured. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Prepare the pasta al dente (I used orecchiette). Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Mix in the pesto, for a minute, over medium heat. Serve immediately, with extra parmesan. Buon appetito! 🙂

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