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Monday, October 09, 2006

Basil with Recipes

I'm doing some laundry and trying to fit some of Eugene's mother's things into our already fairly crowded house. We have succeeded in setting up the overly large TV (Fran was no huge fan of ostentatious TV's but was given this a couple of years ago by her niece) and now I am getting a room ready to put a twin bed together so we have a fer real guest room.

But what the topic here is really about is basil. Basil has been one of our best crops this year. We started it early and it has been providing us with fresh and dried basil since early June. We did two succession plantings this year. One in April in a hoophouse and the second in June outside under row cover. We start cutting it when it gets 4 to 5 sets of leaves and it responds to the cutting by putting out 2 new stems for every stem cut. After a month a twice weekly cutting you can get some very bushy plants that will produce a lot of basil leaves. We had a wetter than normal growing season which helped the basil out quite a bit as it likes it wetter than drier.

Basil is a wonderful herb. Many cultures regard it as holy. Me, I regard it as delicious. We use fresh basil is salads as an additional leafy green.

We use it in pesto

1 cup Fresh basil
2 or more cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Destem the basil and parsley.
put the ingredients in in this order
garlic, pulse a few times, walnuts,
pulse, cheese, basil, pulse, oil and process for about 30 seconds or until smooth

We use it in fresh tomato basil sauce

4 to 6 medium to large tomatoes, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil stemmed and chopped
2 or more cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
olive oil
salt to taste

Heat a large frying/sauté pan, add the oil and let that heat until it shimmers. Than add the yellow onions and cook them until they start to turn translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Than add the maters, basil, garlic and salt. Cook another 10 minutes or so and serve over hot pasta. Grate some good parmesan cheese over top and serve with crunchy garlic bread

We dry it for use in a lot of cooking like good old spaghetti sauce, on garlic bread, on pizza, etc. Dried basil is 3 to 4 times more intense flavor wise and can generally be used in any recipe that calls for fresh basil. The big exception is pesto which must have fresh basil as an ingredient.

The other thing we do with our dried basil is sell it at our farm store, farmers markets and over the web at our Local Harvest Store front. It's a nice crop to have in the colder off season months when we have little to nothing actually growing.

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