My mom is definitely the one with the "green thumb". In fact, for some time, I think my neighbor's thought she was the lady of the house mainly because she was the one outside planting, pruning, watering, and weeding. It's not that I didn't want to be the one with the green thumb. It's more because I wasn't any good at it and the more I tried the more mom came behind me, cleaning up my messes and fixing my mistakes, as moms are prone to do.
Years ago, mom dug a small herb garden off the back porch and she planted chives, oregano, cilantro, basil, and mint. The herbs did well, but over time we widdled it down to chives, basil, and mint, mostly because they thrived the most and we liked them best.
If I ever got real busy and forgot about the herb garden mom always let me know. She would cut huge bouquets of fresh herbs and place them all over the kitchen, and I'd always laugh because it was her way of telling me they needed to be used.
This summer my mom's been sick and she hasn't spent too much time outside in the garden. Just last week the doctor's told us her cancer was terminal. They say we have time, and we are thankful for that, but we are all still in shock and beside ourselves. I've spent many hours staring into space since that day, but the only thing that really helps me is getting in the kitchen.
My mom's always been my blogging buddy. Since the very beginning. The one I cook for. My bravest taste tester. My biggest fan. So this week when I questioned what in the world I could make, I thought of her and what she would do, if only she felt better. I found my answering staring out at the herb garden. It was in need of some love. I started on the basil first and was happy when I found this delicious Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall dish of Potatoes with "Deconstructed Pesto".
It reminded me of another dish I made back in 2011 when the basil went crazy and mom went outside and filled vases upon vases of basil for me to use. The whole house reeked of basil, and we love the scent, but oh boy...there is such a thing as too much and it makes me laugh now thinking about it. That week I think everything I cooked had basil in it. But of all the dishes we tried we tried that week, the one standout was Ina Garten's Basil Potato Puree. We fell in love with those potatoes. In fact, we still talk about that dish from time to time. Mom always calls it a "special dish" and/or "the freshest potatoes ever tasted." I linked that one above, because if I had my pick between the two potato dishes I'd pick that one, but both of these are tasty summer pleasures.
As for me, I'm heading back out into the herb garden. The mint is out of control and I think I got a few more empty vases...
Potatoes with "Deconstructed Pesto"
River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall
1 pounds baby potatoes, cut to uniform size if needed
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
good handful of basil, shredded
generous squeeze of lemon juice
good handful of grated Parmesan
Place uniformly cut (potatoes need to be similar sizes to cut in the same time) into a medium-sized saucepan, cover with water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for about 8 minutes, until tender. Drain the potatoes and set aside.
Put the same saucepan back onto the stove top and add the olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper, to taste. Allow the garlic to cook for around 1 minute, then add potatoes back into the saucepan and stir in the shredded basil, some lemon juice, and some grated Parmesan cheese. Taste, adjust seasoning (usually potatoes always need more salt) and serve.