Monday, July 2, 2012

Beautiful Basil

There’s not much better than fresh basil, any time! It's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and basil will be reaching its peak flavor. 

Try basil in your cottage cheese, with pasta, with anything tomato, or in these recipes:

Very Basic Tomato Salad.  Fresh tomatoes!  Slice up the reddest, ripest tomato you can find.  Chop a few fresh basil leaves and sprinkle over the top.  Cover with plastic wrap, let sit a bit at room temperature, then serve.   Salt is very optional. Slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil makes it Caprese Salad - paradise!

Genovese Pesto Sauce
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
¼ cup pine nuts, walnuts, or pecans
Pinch of salt, or to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Combine garlic, basil, nuts and salt in food processor.  Process until chopped fine and formed into a paste.  Gradually blend in olive oil alternately with the cheese, processing until well mixed.  To store, place in covered containers in small quantities, cover with more olive oil, seal and refrigerate.  To avoid spoilage or “off” flavors, you must freeze pesto if it will not be used within two days.   A handy way to freeze for future use:  Spoon sauce into plastic ice cube trays and freeze.  (You probably will want to dedicate the ice cube trays just for pesto, since they’ll reek of garlic forever!)  Pop pesto cubes out, and place into a freezer bag.    (Double-bag for long storage.)   Use a thawed cube or two over buttered pasta or noodles, drop a couple in a kettle of veggie soup, or perk up ready-made spaghetti sauce. 

Basil Vinegar
From Herbs: Cultivating & Cuisine by Carol Asher
1 quart jar, wide-mouthed
Basil, bruised
Wine vinegar

Fill jar with bruised basil to about ¾ full. Add vinegar to cover. Cover jar tightly (do not use a metal lid). Place in a warm, dark place for 2-4 weeks, shaking periodically. After vinegar has reached the desired flavor, strain into a decorative bottle, adding fresh basil to denote the flavor.

From Herbs – Cultivating & Cuisine
3 Tbl. butter or margarine, melted
Four 6-oz. flounder fillets
1 Tbl. lemon juice
1 Tbl. lemon thyme, minced
¼ cup fresh pesto 

Line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly brush foil with half the butter. Arrange fillets in the pan and brush fish with remaining butter. Sprinkle fish with lemon juice and spread with pesto. Broil 5 inches from heat for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Serves 4.

Enjoy - and stay cool this summer!   - J.

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