Thursday, November 17, 2016

Last of the Basil

Stephanie Rukowicz

The basil in my yard was looking great until the last week in October, and with colder weather on the way, I knew it was best to harvest the remainder of my basil and preserve accordingly. Last year, there was more basil than I could preserve at my community garden. I made several batches of pesto to freeze, then spent three days using my low-end dehydrator to dry a total of two quarts to use over the winter. 2015 was the first year I dried basil and wow, what a taste difference I found from the store bought version! I attempted the microwave version, but found I was easily distracted from a process that needed to be watched closely. If I had a nicer dehydrator, I'm sure the process would have gone much more quickly.

My basil harvest, end of season 2016.
This year, someone beat me to the end-of-season basil harvest so I just had a couple bunches from my yard.

I also had some spinach to use up so I decided to make a double batch of pesto. I make a vegan version (no cheese), and like to cut the richness of basil with another green. Here I used spinach, but my favorites are basil with arugula and basil with broccoli rabe leaves.

Recipe adapted from La Dolche Vegan! by Sarah Kramer, p. 177
For 1 lb of dry pasta use:
1.5 c fresh basil, packed (I use leaves, flowers and tender stems)
1.5 c spinach (or kale, arugula, broccoli rabe leaves)
1/2 c walnuts (I use raw, but toast walnuts for more flavor. I've also used cashew or almond, you can soak first for more creaminess)
2 large or 4 small to medium garlic cloves
1/4 c nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 c olive oil

Add ingredients to blender in order listed. Know your blender--if you don't have a Ninja or Vitamix you may want to chop garlic instead of adding whole cloves. Add water slowly (1 to 4 T) if needed to desired creaminess. Makes approximately 1c, enough for 1 lb pasta and some fresh tomatoes - sliced or diced.

I think next year I will try the recipe for basil dipping oil that Michele posted a while back. Infused olive oil can be pricey, but it is so delicious. I would love to master my own version.

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