Thursday, August 2, 2012

What to do with all that basil/Ocymum basilicum?

By Michele Koskinen

Over the last few years I have grown lemon basil, thai basil, and of course genovese the basil for perfect pesto and freezing. The lemon basil was nice for fish, tea, and fruits and makes a great lemon pesto for a change of pace. Thai basil is good for curry dishes as it has a spicey licorice flavor. Finally the genovese, my all time favorite for pesto and oils and vinigrettes.

So what do you do with all that basil? Take some to your neighbors, family, friends and then when they say no more..........

A few thoughts........dry it, freeze it, make pesto and freeze it, basil oils, basil vinigrettes, basil vinegar, butters, baked in pizza crust, in bread, on top of soups it is endless if you search. I have a few favorites I would like to share.

Basil Dipping Oil       A perfect gift to those who love dipping a crusty slice of bread into a seasoned olive oil before a meal, or a finish to be drizzled onto your bruscetta 

This oil shoud be used within a few days or refrigerate upto a week. The herb should be discarded to prevent bacteria

Harvest your own basil (regular or lemon) or use the smaller stems and leaf pieces of store bought.

Clean fresh basil by running under cool water, pat dry and crush a bit. Use the best extra virgin oil you can buy and pour into a pretty, clean bottle. Leave head room to add the herbs. Carefully place full stems of basil into the bottle of olive oil. Use a skewer or other tool to move the stems where you want them in the bottle. Fill with oil to cover all the exposed leaves and make sure to leave about 1 inch of head room in the bottle to cap or cork the bottle. Let the basil infuse the oil for a day or two then discard discard the basil. This can also be done in a mason or other jar and kept in the refrigerator for upto a week.

This vinaigrette can be used as a dressing with your homegrown tomatoes and mozzarella or drizzled over your salad. I followed the recipe and used it with the grilled sea scallops.

Basil Vinaigrette  from Cooks Illustrated

 tablespoons champagne vinegar
 cup packed fresh basil leaves
tablespoons minced fresh chives
medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
teaspoons sugar
teaspoon salt
 teaspoon ground black pepper
cup vegetable oil

Pulse vinegar, basil, chives, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in jar of blender until roughly chopped. With blender running, slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified, scraping down sides as necessary. 

Pesto is an age old use for basil with the pine nuts and garlic, the one below has another favorite green.... Arugula.     

Basil Arugula Pesto Oil       from Epicurious
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Toss this delicious pesto with 1 1/2 pounds of your favorite pasta, or spread it on slices of Italian bread.

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
            3 cups (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
            1 cup (loosely packed) fresh arugula
            1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
            1/3 cup pine nuts
            2 garlic cloves, peeled
            1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
            2 tablespoons lukewarm water
Place 1/2 cup oil and next 6 ingredients in processor. Process to thick paste. With motor running, add remaining 1/4 cup oil and 2 tablespoons water to processor. Blend until smooth. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Pour thin layer of oil over pesto; cover and chill.)

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Basil Vinegar

Vinegar infused with herbs is a great gift for those that like a variety to use in their cooking. To make
herb vinegar your need to pick your herbs, clean them and put them into the vinegar of choice. Since 
there are several types of vinegar you can mix and experiment until you get one you like. I use the 
lemon and genovese basil with white or champagne vinegar. 1 cup of herbs to 2 cups of vinegar.  
Let steep for several weeks in a sealed jar until you get the taste you like. Discard basil. 

If you have a creative way to use all the basil you have grown. Write us a comment or post it on our
facebook page Click here.

A few interesting sites on basil from the history to how to.

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