This is the time of year when the anticipation of the garden is just about fully realised. August is here and the abundance of vegetables is well on it's way. The cucumber, zucchini flowers and pale green zucchini have been around for a few weeks now, some deep purple eggplant have been sliced for the grill and I've had the first tomatoes (showing their many colours) in a spectacular salad.
But before all that, there's the scent of basil. The aromatic arrival of the tender new basil crop, in all it's fragrant glory, is essential to complement all of the above mentioned vegetables, adorn pizza and provide the verde in insalata caprese. That said, it also makes for a wonderful solo act.
Large bunch of basil, trimmed of any stemmy bits.
I use a mortar and pestle and follow Jamie Oliver's recipe, more or less.
On classic, handmade trofie with a few tender green beans, filej or other spiral pasta where the basil-y goodness can gather, pesto is particularly satisfying. However, not a total stickler for authenticity, any sturdy long or tubular penne-type or garganelli will do if you need a basil fix..
Another interesting gem I have found to coat pasta is a carrot top pesto. It's spectacular on roasted carrots and if you've got a bit leftover from the carrot dish, it's tasty on pasta as well.
Wine: Inspired by the herbal aromas, I opened a bottle of Astrolabe Sauvignon blanc. Classic Marlborough matches well, as would a solid RSA Chenin blanc (generally under-rated good value too). If you favour keeping things Italian, almost all of the Italian wine regions have a food friendly white on offer. A few immediate favourites come to mind: Soave, Pinot grigio from Friuli or Roero Arneis - all very good.