Shiso Pesto and Way too much Pasta

Remember when I said my shiso was blowing up?  It’s finally gotten a little out of hand.  My occasional leaf pick for a salad was no longer keeping up with these beasts, and with our first frost creeping closer, I figured it would be best to do something about these crazy plants.

I planted these when they were about 2 inches tall... they grow up so fast! *tear*

I planted these when they were about 2 inches tall... they grow up so fast! *tear*

The purple shiso is so damn pretty.

The purple shiso is so damn pretty.

So what to do with a huge amount of basil-like leaves?  The same thing you would do with a huge amount of basil leaves: PESTO!  Lots and lots of pesto.  If you're like me, you will then smother some pasta with said pesto and eat ALL OF IT!  And then regret eating all of it.  #runnerproblems

I used about 3 cups of shiso plus 5 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of salt, mixed in a food processor.  My shiso leaves were a bit older and therefore a bit too leafy in texture, so I spent several minutes blending it up to really get the consistency right.  That definitely did the trick, but probably wouldn't be necessary if you picked just the young leaves.

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Now - you could just stop here with just the leaves and oil.  This is a great option for people with any food allergies - no nuts, no dairy, and in my opinion, still lots of incredible flavor!  However, if you're looking for a more traditional pesto, you can add some type of nut and some type of hard cheese - pine nuts and parmesan are the usual suspects, but really any combination will do the trick.

Then, as mentioned before, you can do with this what you might do with any other pesto.  The flavor is slightly more minty than basil, and could easily overpower a dish - so taste frequently as you add the pesto to make sure you don't overdo it.  In order to balance some of the strong flavors, I sauteed some mushrooms and heated up some some sun-dried tomatoes, added to pasta, and voila!  A dinner worthy of going back for seconds.... and in my case, thirds... oof.

Pasta and cider?  Let's just pretend I'm carb loading for a race or something.

Pasta and cider?  Let's just pretend I'm carb loading for a race or something.

A really great thing about pesto is that any leftovers are super easy to store for the future.  Just plop spoonfuls separately on some parchment paper and stick them in the freezer.  Once the individual blobs are frozen, you can store them all in a bag in the freezer for later use - maybe sometime in the middle of the winter, when we are all craving fresh herbs?