Growing things from seed is a little more complicated than I thought. Remember when I told you I was growing cherry tomatoes from seed and promised I would fill you in on their progress as I reaped the millions of tomatoes they would produce? Well if they had grown heavy with a great crop you wouldn't have heard the end of it, but guess how many the plants managed to squeeze out...
Three measly little fruit.
There isn't much you can do with three cherry tomatoes except pop them straight into your mouth. It was a pathetic effort. The same thing happened to my friend James, who nurtured a seemingly thriving heirloom tomato plant for months and ended up with just one (delicious) tomato. It's not fair!
How do you do it? Have you grown tomatoes from seed before? Got any tips? I'm blaming it on the rain.
What makes me feel a little better are the herbs. You should see the size of our oregano and sage bushes (yes, bushes), they are magnificent. The problem is knowing what to do with it all, there is only so much oregano you can put on a pizza. The basil plants are also going fairly well and after hoarding jars for so long I figured I would put two and two together. I added a handful of sage to the basil as it was begging to be used, and it's really rather great.
The best pesto I ever had was in the Cinque Terra on the Northern coast of Italy in the dry heat of early September. We had rented a tiny little apartment at the top of the hill and had a light, makeshift dinner of pasta with fresh Pesto Genovese tossed with torn summer tomatoes and cold buffalo mozzarella, the perfect ending to a day baked hot by the sun. Sitting on the tiny terrace with a cold beer in hand underneath our swimming costumes hung on a makeshift clothesline and that pasta dish, a feeling emerged that I have been trying to recreate ever since, the complete sublime.
Sage and Basil Pesto:
an original recipe
makes one jar
1/2 cup unsalted cashew nuts
approx 1 1/2 cups freshly picked basil
approx 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano parmesan cheese
juice of 1/2 a lemon (or to taste, I like it quite lemony)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and roast the cashews on a baking tray for 10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly golden. Cool.
Rinse and drain the herbs and place in a food processor with the Parmigiano, lemon juice, garlic and cashew nuts. Process for about 20 seconds until the herbs are broken down. With the motor still running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Scrape down the sides with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are well combined. Process for a further 20 seconds until all ingredients are combined and resemble a pasta sauce, taste and add a pinch of black pepper.
Add more oil or lemon juice if it looks too dry, it should be relatively smooth and not too thick.
Pour into a sterilised glass jar and pour about two tablespoons of olive oil on the surface to keep out the air so the pesto does not turn brown. Place the lid on the jar and keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.