Time for a little confession….I’m an herb-a-holic, and no not that kind. Yes, I do live in California (home of legalized medicinal marijuana aka herb) but I’m talking about H-E-R-B-S. The same type of plants that go by the name herbs in any state or country of this planet and by anyone who cooks, legitimate herbs.
Every Spring, when I go to the nursery to find the plants to fill my garden, I go a little crazy when I get to the herb section. This year was no exception. I’ve got dill, tarragon, spearmint, peppermint, lemon thyme, oregano, epazote, parsley, shiso, chives and basil…lots of basil. In fact, I’ve got regular basil, Thai basil and lemon basil. Basil is the one herb I just can’t decide on which type to get, they’re all so good and I use them in everything. So now, that it’s the middle of summer, I’ve got a bit of problem: I’ve got too much damn basil! What the hell am I gonna do with all of this basil? A person can only eat so much pesto – right?
So I thought today, I would pass along to you some of the things that you can do with this summer delicacy. I promise you that these fresh basil recipes are easy and versatile. Plus, there’s a little something you can do with one of them that will let you continue to enjoy fresh basil recipes all the way into the dead of winter. How cool is that? As Mylie Cyrus would say: “pretty cool.”
The first, of the fresh basil recipes, is a basil sauce. It’s not really quite that simple, it’s actually a basil anchovy recipe. Quit scrunching up your nose (you know that’s one of the ways you get those ugly wrinkles in your forehead that causes you to have to get Botox injections right?). So think of this recipe as a way to keep yourself healthy and youthful looking and not have to get those painful and expensive Botox injections – not that I would know anything about that. ( I get that that last statement is a stretch, but just go with it ok?)
This basil sauce recipe/anchovy recipe is really versatile. You can use this sauce for a quick and easy pasta topping or smear it on some crostini with a bit of goat cheese and you’ve got yourself a pretty appetizer full of umami goodness. You can also make this basil anchovy recipe as thick or as thin as you would like it to be. Which means that you could also spoon it into a pretty bowl, surrounded by a bunch of vegetables and use it as a crudité dip (which is a really fancy term for a veggie platter dip).
The second, of the fresh basil recipes, is a basil oil recipe. You’ve probably seen basil oil for sale at a lot of the fancy grocery stores or specialty markets and never thought that you could make it yourself. Guess what? You can. It only takes 2 ingredients: fresh basil and a good olive oil and a little bit of time – but your efforts will be well rewarded. The emerald green elixer that comes from your efforts will taste even better than the most expensive specialty olive oil.
This simple basil oil recipe can be used to dress salads, make ice cream (yes, ice cream), cook with, swirl into soups (for a little added flavor) or add at the end of your favorite chicken recipe to give it a slightly different flavor than usual.
The third, of the fresh basil recipes, isn’t really a recipe at all…it’s more of a by-product of the basil oil recipe. When you strain the olive oil and basil, you’ll get quite a bit of the finely chopped basil mixed with some of the olive oil – it’s kind of like a really boring version of pesto. But there’s no sense in throwing this out…why not freeze it?
By freezing the leftover basil and olive oil, you’ll have a pesto base, a finishing touch to add to soups or a great starter for a sauce to add to your dinner. I froze mine into 1 piece because I know that I’ll end up using it to make a small batch of pesto later, but you could also freeze it in an ice cube tray (in 1 tablespoon cubes) or into some smaller container to get even tinier cubes. Whatever you do, don’t throw this stuff out…it’s green gold for your recipes this winter.
Not enough basil recipes for you? Find even more fresh basil recipes at this link.
Here’s a fun basil olive oil recipe for something unusual, but delicious to use that basil olive oil for.
The real stress of life is thinking that everything has to mean something.
Yes, really, everything. The bagger at the checkout counter asks if you need help to your car, and you are now convinced that you must look as horribly out of shape as you feel. When you get that ticket, even though you unbuttoned your blouse and flashed your pearly whites, you clearly are so ugly that the officer isn’t ticketing you for speeding, he’s writing that ticket to punish you for being looks challenged.
While these mental mind games wreak havoc on our psyches during our everyday lives, it’s our relationships that seem to be like crack for our self-denigrating brains. It starts on our first date: if he doesn’t call back within the first 24 hours it’s because I’m not worthy of another human beings’ attention and am destined to spend the rest of my years with a pack of cats that will, no doubt, eat my remains as a means to stay alive because I won’t even have friends to check in on me. Once he calls back, you’re together for a seemingly infinite number of years and he finally proposes, then the real mental turpitude kicks in. Including the moment of the proposal: my ring isn’t the size of a dinner plate, my friends are going to think I’m marrying a broke ass loser.
We of course know that we’re being ridiculous, but something in the deep recesses of our little pea brains keeps bringing all of this bs to the surface. Somehow it convinces us that the size of our jeans, the length of time we wait at the door of the club and the color of the soles of our high heels is what determines our Earthly worth and desirability. We both know that’s not true, but try telling yourself that when that bottle of wine and bag of tortilla chips has found itself a home on your ass and now you have to wear your “fat” jeans and hit the gym for the next 14 days in a row.
Assigning meaning to all of life’s, well, life is draining and ultimately leads to nothing but disappointment. Getting carded at the grocery store checkout makes you feel great, for about 5 minutes, but you and I know that they have to card everyone now and fitting into those size 2 J Brand Jeans still doesn’t mean you look like Kate Middleton. All it means is that you you’ve succeeded in eating less iceberg lettuce than your body can burn off and that your offerings to the God’s of cellulite might be paying off. But really, iceberg lettuce? You do realize they make these things called Spanx now right?
Recipe: Basil Anchovy Sauce
- 3 Cloves of Garlic (roughly chopped)
- 6 Anchovy Filets
- 1/4 Cup Toasted Walnuts
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Capers (drained)
- 2 Tablespoons Breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 Cups Basil Leaves (washed and dried)
- 1/2 Cup Italian Parsley Leaves (washed and dried)
- 2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
- 1/2 Tablespoon Anchovy Oil (from jar of anchovies)
- 1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
- 1/2 – 3/4 Cup Olive Oil
- Add all ingredients, except olive oil, to the bowl of a food processor.
- Begin to process the ingredients and slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
- Continue adding olive oil until the desired consistency is reached.
This recipe makes a little more than 1 cup of sauce.
I used lemon basil when I made this, so there was a nice bit of lemon flavor. If you use regular basil and would like a hint of lemon, just add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the mixture (as much or as little as you like).
Preparation time: 15 Minutes
Cooking time: 0 Minutes
Diet type: Vegan
Number of servings (yield): 8
Culinary tradition: USA (General)
Recipe: Basil Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Basil Leaves (washed and dried)
- 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fill a medium size bowl with ice and water and set aside. (You will be putting the blanched basil leaves into this.)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add the basil leaves and leave them in the water for 5 seconds.
- Remove the basil from the boiling water and put it immediately into the ice water.
- Squeeze the water from the basil leaves and dry them a bit more with a towel. Separate the leaves a bit and toss them into a blender. (Continue doing this until all of the basil is in the blender.)
- Pour the olive oil into the blender.
- Turn on the blender and puree the basil until there are no more pieces showing in the mixture (about 1 minute).
- Pour the mixture through a sieve. You will probably need to gently run a spatula back and forth over the mixture to help it strain. (Scoop the basil solids into another container.)
- Rinse the sieve and then line it with a double layer of cheese cloth. (Thoroughly wet the cheese cloth, and wring it out, before lining the sieve. This keeps the cheese cloth from absorbing all of the delicious oil.)
- Strain the oil this way two more times. The last time you strain the oil, use 4 layers of cheese cloth.
- Pour the oil into a sealable jar and refrigerate.
This makes 1/2 cup of basil oil. I make this in small batches because it needs to be refrigerated and used within 5 days. The solids that you scraped during the first filtering can be put into a container and frozen for later use.
Preparation time: 15 Minutes
Cooking time: 5 Seconds
Diet type: Vegetarian
Number of servings (yield): 8
Culinary tradition: USA (General)