Wednesday, August 15, 2012
One of my favorite summer foods is basil. Basil is culinary ganja. I love to take a moment when I'm picking it to just breathe it in. It smells so pungent and rich and luscious.
One of my least favorite summer foods to pay for is basil. If you plant it early (we plant it from seeds), put it in a sunny spot, and water it frequently, you can have all the basil your heart desires. This summer, the hubs planted several pots of basil ('cuz he knows I like plentiful, generous amounts basil), including some Thai basil (see the copper planter in front), which is a bit more savory.
My favorite dishes with fresh basil are caprese salads--I make a little vinaigrette with balslamic, olive oil (usually regular as the extra virgin is strong tasting) some fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper--pasta with pesto, and any (preferable spicy) thai dish. But you can also sprinkle fresh basil on pizza, on pasta with marinara sauce, or on any pasta dish. If I only have a small serving of pesto leftover, I'l use it to make a pesto-mozzarella-tomato sandwich, or I'll whisk it into some eggs before I scramble them for a yummy breakfast or brunch.
I'll leave you with the recipe (my mother's) I use for pesto. I am a pesto purist. I don't generally get adventurous and add herbs other than basil and parsley. I always make this recipe. It is easily doubled or tripled. The amounts needn't be exact--if you have a little more or less of any ingredient, it won't matter. Just make sure you have plenty of basil. Frankly, I have never included the butter (my husband is lactose intolerant and even so I don't add butter to dishes when I can use olive oil instead). And I don't measure out the olive oil. I just keep mixing it in until the texture is right. I also sometimes use regular olive oil and I sometimes use extra virgin. I only use fresh parmesan. I am not that familiar with Sardo and I hate to admit it but I do not care too much for pecorino cheese. With the exception of Pyrennes Brebis, I am not a fan of sheep cheese. It's too sheepy tasting. Finally, I sometimes roast or sautee the garlic first (and in that case add more than two small cloves) because otherwise, the taste can be too sharp and linger longer than I'd like it to.
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
2 small cloves of garlic
2 Tb pine nuts
1/2 - 3/4 grated Sardo, pecorino, or Parmesan cheese
3 Tbs butter
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
Directions are simple:
1. In a blender or food processor, whirl together all ingredients EXCEPT the oil.
2. Add oil in at a slow trickle.