Cooking Techniques For Basil
Basil leaves can be used fresh in salads or included in many cooked dishes. Their flavor intensifies during cooking. Some cooks prefer to tear the leaves rather than chopping them when using them fresh. Perhaps the favorite use of basil is pesto, a basil sauce commonly used on pasta, baked potatoes or a variety of steamed vegetables.
Sauces and Basil - Basil enhances many sauces, but the most popular is the tomato sauce often used with spaghetti. Even a store bought sauce will jump off the plate with extra zing when a cup of chopped fresh basil is added just before serving.
Basil With Vegetables- Chop some fresh basil leaves and sprinkle them over zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, or spinach. Mix fresh basil with light cream cheese and use on baked potatoes.
Basil Vinegars - Make a basil vinegar by adding 6 to 12 leaves to warm white vinegar (cider or rice). The dark opal basil makes a very attractive as well as tasty vinegar. A few cloves of garlic can be added for a different combination. Use the vinegar in salad dressings.
In a food processor or blender, combine 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, 3 tablespoons of pine nuts (substitute almonds or walnuts), 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese, and 2 or 3 cloves of garlic. Puree the mixture by slowly adding olive oil until a smooth paste is formed, about the consistency of molasses.
Pesto stores in the fridge for several weeks. Use two tablespoons per serving of pasta (great on linguine). Past coated with pesto and then chilled makes a spectacular pasta salad. Use one tablespoon of pesto over a baked potato or a piece of broiled fish. Dip good French bread in pesto to replace butter. Use Pesto to be the base coat of a home made pizza. (drop)one or two tablespoons of pesto in vegetable soup, beef stews, or in any other dish that needs some zing.
You can freeze individual meal sized amounts of pesto in ice cube trays for up to 3 or 4 months. do not include the garlic or the nuts in the frozen version, adding them later when it is thawed.
Sliced Tomato and Basil Salad - A dish to die for is very simple and exquisitely delicious. Slice a tomato still warm fresh picked from the garden and set out on platter. With a scissors snip bits of fresh basil over the slices as thickly as you desire. Add small chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese over the slices in an attractive manner (whatever that is), and then drizzle olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar over the whole gorgeous mess. Let sit for a half hour and serve with French bread and whatever else you have. Be careful, this salad is definitely addictive.