One of the things that attracted me to my little apartment when I was house hunting was the balcony. It’s a pretty decent size, north facing and covered so it is protected from the elements. It’s a lovely place to sit and read the paper on the weekend, or have a glass of wine after work, but I also hoped it would have great potential for growing some herbs and vegetables.
I’ve been living here just over two months now, and I’m yet to make much progress in my balcony gardening endeavours, but big things are on the horizon! So far, I have mint and basil in pots, and a lemon tree, and I’m trying my hardest to keep them all alive. I’ve never done much gardening before, but I am hopeful that there is a green thumb hidden away somewhere, as it’s most definitely in my genes.
My Poppa had the most incredible backyard veggie patch I have ever seen, in fact, calling it a backyard veggie patch doesn’t do it any justice! It was quite literally the back half of their property (the front half was for Nanna’s roses!), and everything was planted in perfect rows or on neat trellises, with not even a weed to be seen. My sister and I used to love spending time out there when we would visit them back in New Zealand as there was always something delicious for us to pick and eat – strawberries straight off the plant, carrots dug up for us, or in winter freshly dug baby yams, perfectly roasted for dinner (my favourite!).
My mum has followed in her father’s footsteps, although hers is not quite as neat and tidy as his was! It’s expanded over the years from a couple of raised beds to quite a few more, plus fruit trees and citrus trees which keep me in good supply of lemons, plums, peaches and tangellos. I will be picking her brains over the coming weeks and months as I try to turn my little inner-city balcony into a place full of fresh produce, ready to go straight in my cooking.
I have had lots of use out of my herbs so far as they have found their way into salads, iced teas, cocktails and pastas, and today I thought I’d share the recipe for a simple Basil and Mint Pesto I have been whipping up whenever I have an excess of both herbs to use. So here goes!
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 cups basil leaves
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Mince the garlic then place in your food processor with the basil, mint, walnuts, lemon juice and zest and blitz until well combined
- Add the nutritional yeast and blitz to combine
- With the motor still running, slowly pour in the oil until it reaches your desired consistency
- Taste then season with salt and pepper
You can replace the nutritional yeast with parmesan cheese if you’d like, I prefer to make my vegan but it’s up to you! You can also use pine nuts in place of the walnuts, but as B doesn’t eat pine nuts it’s always walnuts around here!
The possibilities for using the pesto are almost endless – add it to your scrambled eggs for breakfast, spread it in a sandwich, use it for a quick pasta sauce, you name it!
What’s your favourite way to use pesto? Do you have any gardening tips for me? I can use all the help I can get!