Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fun with herbs

One of my favorite things about not winter is fresh herbs, particularly basil. Basil leaves make an excellent garnish on everything from fried eggplant (which I made last Friday) to corn from the frozen veggie section (a regular in my apartment). Once you get used to the full, sweet flavor of the fresh stuff, it's hard to feel the same way about dried basil. The problem with basil, though, is that 40 degrees and a strong breeze will kill it; it doesn't do winters (or even late falls) very well. This summer my basil plant is growing spectacularly (thanks to daily waterings and plenty of full sun), and I was trying to find a way to preserve some of that bounty for the winter. [That's the basil AFTER I cut off about a third of it. Also a zinnia--ain't it cute?] Here's one excellent method I came across:

Gather 3-5 branches of basil, 2-4 stems of fresh mint, a few sprigs of parsley, and a small handful of fresh oregano. Rinse them all,shake dry, and de-stem. Dump all the leaves in a blender and blend on high. Add chopped or crushed garlic to taste. Add extra virgin olive oil and blend until it turns into a paste. Add grated Parmesan cheese and continue to blend. You'll need a lot of cheese-probably at least a cup, and you may need to add some more oil to keep the consistency. I also added a bit of garlic salt, but I think I wouldn't next time. Some people also like pine nuts or other kinds of nuts, but I didn't have any. I'm sure it's good. I've also heard of adding lemon juice.[clockwise from top: parsley, catnip, thyme, oregano, garlic chives]

The resulting pesto is excellent over pasta or on just about any form of carbohydrate you can think of. I mixed mine with some vermicelli and topped it with a few of the cherry tomatoes off my tomato plant. It made an excellent side for the broiled salmon. I poured the leftover pesto into an ice tray. When it's frozen I'll remove it to a freezer bag and in the winter I can just add a cube to a pot of pasta for a taste of fresh summer! I can't wait for my basil plant to regrow so I can make another batch![To the left of the tomato plant is the mint that has crept in from the neighbor's yard. I'm not complaining.]

1 comment:

Monica said...

You have such a delightful little garden! :)