Please advise me of ideas on using fresh basil. Thank you.
I am a basil addict and have lots growing on my windowsill. I add it to every dish I make except for desserts.
One example - sausages, the expensive sort, not the type with lots of fat, and cook them with peeled chunks of cooking apples and basil. It may be an acquired taste, but I really like it.
I also really love basil, so I'll weigh in here, too. There are different varieties of basil, but my suggestion works with any of them. My favorite summer meal is this:
1. Put water on to boil for your favorite pasta.
2. Cut up any seasonal veggies on hand to bite-size or smaller slices. Eggplant and summer squashes work well, but anything you'd like to see later on your plate is fair game. (Save back tomatoes for later.)
3. Saute the veggies in olive oil with a bit of minced fresh garlic. I use about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon per serving, but adjust to your taste. That might be way to garlicky for some people, or not enough for others. Use just a little extra olive oil.
4. When your water boils, put the pasta in to cook.
5. While the rest is cooking, dice a small to medium tomato for each meal-sized portion you plan to serve. Pluck fresh basil leaves--enough for at least a teaspoonful or so per person--and shred if necessary to make small bits.
6. When the pasta is done, drain it and put about 1/2 to 3/4 of a usual meal-sized serving on a dinner plate or in a large bowl. (Adjust the amount to leave room for veggies.)
(Note: If you like, you can cover your plate to retain heat after this and each of the next steps, but it usually goes so fast from here that covering is not necessary.)
7. As soon as the veggies are done, turn them out onto the pasta. Toss the basil leaves into the remaining oil on the pan, and set back on the heat on the stove. (If your oil's gone, add a little more and heat it first. Eggplant especially can suck up your oil.) Mix the basil leaves around as needed so they crisp up in the oil.
8. As soon as the basil leaves get a little crispy, turn them out onto the pasta. Toss the tomato pieces into the pan, but turn the heat off.
9. The remaining heat from the pan will just barely soften the tomatoes. When they're done to your liking, turn them out onto the pasta.
10. Sprinkle with a little sea salt (to taste, again), and then stir very well. You want to get everything mixed together. The flavored oil, basil, and tomatoes end up as a sauce for your pasta and veggies.
I use this basic idea all summer long, with many variations. I've added slivered nuts, sunflower seeds, or tofu if I've wanted protein in it. (Remember to use extra seasonings if you add tofu, as it has no real flavor of its own.) Everyone who's had it loves it and asks for it again, so I must not be the only one who likes it!
It's also very healthy--lots of fresh veggies, and the only fat is olive oil or what's in any seeds or tofu you add.
I love sweet basil. I put it in soups, on potatoes & in vegetables, like carrots. It adds such a great flavor. When I grow it, the plants always produce too much. So any extra, I dry. I cut the leaves & trim what I want to dry. When it' dry, I grind it up in a spice grinder & freeze in seal a meal bags. It lasts a really long time. When they're not growing anymore, then use the frozen.
My fav way is just to use the leaves like lettuce on tomato sandwiches. I also like to put sliced tomatoes on a plate, add some chopped basil and splash on some olive oil. Simple salad and so good. Anything wiith tomato is good with basil. I use it in stir fires too. I always throw a little in stews, dumplings, dressings as in turkey dressing, and even in my omelets. You can't go worng with basil.
I, too, am an addict. I chop it up very small and use it in stuff like stir fry and soups. It is very fragrant and blends well with other spices, like ginger and garlic. Here is an url with some recipes.
Here is one of my most favorite dishes containing basil:
Pasta Alla Checca
4 tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Fresh grated parmesan cheese to taste
1 lb angel hair pasta
Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil in glass or plastic bowl. Stir in salt. Cover and sit at room temperature for about two to four hours.
Cook pasta until "al dente". Drain. Pour uncooked sauce over hot pasta and toss. Add grated Parmesan cheese.
Note: The sauce will stay fresh in the fridge for up to three days but be sure to allow the room temperature marinating to occur first. All that remains is to cook up the pasta and "slightly" heat the sauce in microwave.
Serve with a butter lettuce salad lightly coated with red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and grated parmesan cheese and don't forget French bread smothered in unsalted butter ;-)
And one more:
Basil Chive Butter
1 cups fresh basil leaves, packed firmly
4 tbls fresh chives, chopped
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
Olive oil, in case needed for processing
Puree ingredients in a food processor. If the mixture seems too dry just add a teaspoon of olive oil and repeat if necessary. Continue to puree until smooth.
This butter tastes so yummy with many foods but especially sole, salmon, grilled corn, and plain pasta.
The butter will remain fresh in the refrigerator for at least a couple of weeks.
Here are a few things that I make with basil:
I can not improve on any of the ideas that have been offered, except one. I grow basil, Thai basil in particular, as it is so very good, but I would never dream of drying it. I pick the leaves, make sure they are clean and dry, fold the amount I expect to use at one time in a small amount of aluminum foil, and lay the layers of foil in a zip-top bag in the freezer. Then when I need to season, always at the very end of cooking the basil goes in, and that goes for anything with tomatoes, and just about anything else gets tried at least once.
One thing I forgot to say. Once you plant the seed you will never have to buy it again. Just keep planting form those you dry. It is the easiest herb to grow and here on the Coast, it will grow all Summer if I keep the flower heads picked off, don't let it go to seed unless you are looking for seed. It is growing now on my back porch. It grew all Winter long, last year. Cold seems to make it grow even prettier. It rarely freezes here but it got through a few light freezes last year, still intact. I do protect it from frost though. Just throw some plastic over it and remove it in the day time.
Basil in scrambled eggs with cheese is the best.
Try making a basil mojito.
Here's a recipe for a traditional mojito. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/The-Real-Mojito/Detail.aspx
Just substitute mint for basil. It's a nice change!
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