"Bludgeoning hard times with a rolling pin"

"Bludgeoning hard times with a rolling pin"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sweet, flourishing basil

Photo above: My baby.

After growing basil from seeds this spring, my windowsill crop is flourishing and about ready for harvest. Trouble is, I hate to use any.

I feel so green-thumbed when I look over at my buddy, all grown-up. He's the herb I coddled from infancy. While I'm doing dishes, I think, "I'm his mother."

When one of his leaves is rubbed, a lemony/minty aroma is released. Natural perfume!

I'm quite proud.

Nevertheless, I should get over myself and realize the purpose of growing basil is, in fact, to use it. It is food. Or as eco people might say, on my windowsill I practice "food production."

Here's what's happening with my basil bumper crop:

Drying basil for use during the year. Here's how:
Clip some sprigs.
Wash and dry them thoroughly.
Gather the bunches of sprigs
Hang them upside down until dried. Try to find a dark, dry spot.
When the basil is dry, crush them a bit and store in a container.

And, you know...a discussion about basil wouldn't be complete without a recipe for pesto!

About 2 cups of fresh basil (not dried)
At least one whole clove of garlic--more if you like
1/2 cup of nuts (pine nuts are traditional, but substitute peanuts, walnuts or almonds)
One cup of Parmesan cheese
One cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a blender or food processor, pulse the garlic and nuts.
Add the basil and pulse some more.
Add the cheese and process.
Sprinkle in some salt and pepper.
Add olive oil gradually. Continue processing until the mixture is creamy.

Fresh pesto lasts about one week in the refrigerator.
Freeze some in ice cube trays for quick-grab-pesto.

Top pasta dishes with pesto instead of a red sauce or use as the sauce on pizza. Pesto is also tasty as a dip or on crackers.

What about you? Is it sweet basil harvest time at your house?

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