Written by Mary F. Pisarkiewicz

Basil in my garden

We are in the dog days of summer here in the USA with many states experiencing tremendous heat waves, including NY. Numerous crops are suffering, particularly corn across the Midwest, but my little garden has miraculously been just fine and is a profusion of basil, mint, sage and oregano!

So I’ve been making tons of pesto sauce and freezing it! It has been so delicious, there’s nothing better than making it from fresh cut basil, so aromatic and actually good for you as well! Recently, there has been research into the health benefits of the essential oils found in basil. Scientific studies have established that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, antiviral and antimicrobial properties, and even potential for use in treating cancer. Basil is originally from India and in Siddha medicine, it is even used for treating pimples on the face!

I served it at one dinner party recently just in a bowl as an accompaniment and guests were putting it on their roasted vegetables, on top of their rice and beans, eating it by the spoonful, asking to take some home and putting in requests to receive as a Christmas present. It’s that good!

Here’s my recipe. Remember, it’s all about the quality of the ingredients for any dish you make, so use the very best you can.


-makes about 3 cups

3 cups of packed basil leaves, thoroughly washed and dried

6 – 7 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups walnuts

1 1/2 cups Greek extra virgin olive oil (I like Athena brand)

1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan (Reggiano) cheese

2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (Locatelli) cheese



In a large food processor, combine basil, garlic and walnuts. Process to make a near paste. Scrape bowl. With machine on, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Scrape bowl again. Add the cheeses, a big pinch of salt and 20 grinds of fresh black pepper. Process again, taste and add more salt, if necessary, to your liking.

A one cup portion is enough to coat 1 lb. of dried pasta, cooked. I like it on fusilli best as it can get in all the little groves for maximum coverage and flavor.

This freezes well.


For more life stories and recipes, visit www.lovethesecretingredient.net


About The Author

My name is Mary Frances. I am a designer, creative director, painter, wife, mother and cook. I own an internationally recognized, award-winning brand development and marketing communications firm in New York City, and am a graduate of Parsons School of Design. I especially love to cook and serve great food to make people content and happy. Hearing mmmm’s makes my heart soar. I grew up in suburban St. Louis, in Webster Groves, the youngest of six and the only girl. (Yes, that’s FIVE older brothers!) My mom was a great home cook, and she made sure that I could make a mean pie from scratch. After Parsons, I married, had two boys and moved from NYC to the NJ suburbs where I threw myself into cooking and entertaining. Now it’s time for me to share the great recipes, tips, stories and LOVE with you. The inspiration for LOVE – the secret ingredient www.lovethesecretingredient.net came from our youngest son when he wrote in a gift cookbook that the one ingredient that was ever-present in my meals was love. When you cook with LOVE, everything just tastes better.

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