Best Friends of Summer: Basil & Tomato

Some "Hillbilly" heirloom tomatoes wait for their meet-up with basil, walnuts, pecans, olive oil and salt. 

Some "Hillbilly" heirloom tomatoes wait for their meet-up with basil, walnuts, pecans, olive oil and salt. 

There was a girl who lived across the street from my grandparents' place in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.  Her name was Alison, and she was about my age. During the summers, when my mom would ship us kids out to Grammy and Pop-Pop's for a week at a time, she was my go-to companion, my vacation friend. 

Basil and tomato are BFFs in every season, but they are both on their best behavior right now, in August.  My Genovese basil plants are thick with glossy leaves and my tomato plants, especially the cherry varieties, are coming on.

Genovese basil, starting to bolt!  Better use it now.....

Genovese basil, starting to bolt!  Better use it now.....

I actually had enough patience before lunchtime to whir up some pesto in my mini-blender.  I didn't have pine nuts, so I used pecans and walnuts.  I also toasted them, though that's not supposed to make much of a difference, at least with the traditional, mild-tasting pignoli or pine nut. 

Another alteration: I omitted cheese.  I'm currently avoiding dairy products for 30 days, to see if I have a sensitivity to them, so I didn't add any Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano.  All in all, my "pesto" was more like a basil-and-nut sauce, which was fine by me.  It was still yummy.  It's basil and olive oil and nuts, how could it not be?

These are called "Husky Cherry Red."  They've got a sharp tang to them.

These are called "Husky Cherry Red."  They've got a sharp tang to them.

Next time I do this, when I'm done with this 30 day thing, I'm going to make pesto with cheese and with a mortar and pestle, the old-fashioned way.  Serious Eats, one of my favorite food blogs, says it makes a silkier sauce