Growing basil & making pesto

Now is the time to reap the benefits of sun-loving basil.

By Wendyl Nissen

It’s now just about warm enough to start sowing basil seeds in your garden or in trays to plant out later. I like to devote a big part of my garden to basil, as it is used in just about everything I cook during summer. It’s a natural companion to tomato – and if you’ve got a lot of plants, you can make wonderful pesto.

The secret with basil is to plant it in full sun and make sure it gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. It just loves to be warm. And to get it to grow nice and bushy, pick out the shoots at the tips often. Here is a recipe for anyone who loves pesto, but can’t eat dairy.

I used to make this for my vegan daughter – and I think I actually prefer it to the real one. You can get nutritional yeast, sometimes known as yeast flakes, at health shops andsome supermarkets.

Dairy-free pesto

1½ cups fresh basil

cup olive oil

1 cup pine nuts which have been gently toasted in a pan

5 cloves garlic

cup nutritional yeast or yeast flakes

Put all the ingredients in your food processor and combine until you still have a few lumps, but it is well blended together. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. This stores well in your fridge in a glass jar.

Hints & Tips:

• To stop mirrors fogging up in the bathroom, rub with a cloth dipped in glycerine. You can buy it at the chemist or some supermarkets. Or try rubbing with soap, then polishing for the same result.

• A reader sent me this tip for dog walks. Carry a plastic shower cap with you, so you can fill it up with water for your dog to drink from on hot days.

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