What is it about basil that brings to mind sunny warm days? Perhaps its the scent, perhaps memories growing pots of basil on the deck, or reminisces of a vacation. Fortunately for cooks, fresh basil is available year around in most larger supermarkets. Here are some recipes that showcase the delight of basil.
2 cups fresh basil leaves
4 large cloves garlic
1 cup pine nuts
1 cup olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Prepare an ice-water bath.
- Plunge basil leaves into the boiling water for 3-5 seconds, then immediately into the ice-water bath (this preserves their bright green color).
- Pat dry.
- Combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor.
- Chop briefly.
- Leave the motor running and add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream.
- Turn off the processor.
- Add cheeses, salt and pepper.
- Process briefly to combine.
Makes about 2 cups that taste delicious on pasta or chicken.
1 loaf French bread, sliced 1" thick
3/4 pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (1/4 to 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved or grated
- Mix tomatoes and basil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Mix garlic with butter.
- Heat olive oil in frying pan and fry bread until golden brown on both sides.
- Remove and drain on paper towel.
- Lightly spread some of the garlic butter on one side of the bread. Leftover garlic butter can be refrigerated for later use.
- Using a slotted spoon, drain the tomato-basil mixture of excess liquid and top each slice of bread.
- Salt and pepper, to taste.
- Top with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Basil cheese torta
1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 pound Provolone, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3- x 3/8-inch strips
1 small jar sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil)
Fresh basil for garnish
- Mix cream cheese and butter with a fork; add pesto and mix well.
- Line a small loaf pan or bowl with plastic wrap, leaving several inches of overhang on each side.
- Make a thin layer of provolone slices on the bottom and partially up the sides.
- Spread 1/3 of the pesto mixture over the cheese; arrange 2 or 3 sun-dried tomatoes, 4 to 6 bell pepper strips, and about 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts over the pesto.
- Repeat layers until all ingredients are used pressing down well between layers.
- Chill overnight or for several days.
- Serve at room temperature on a platter wreathed with fresh basil sprigs.
- Additional toasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, red bell pepper strips, and fresh basil sprigs may be used as garnish.
Cinnamon Basil Honey
1 cup honey
2 tablespoons brandy
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dried cinnamon basil.
- Heat the honey over low heat, then add the brandy.
- Place the cinnamon and cinnamon basil in a sterile jar and pour the honey over.
- Let mellow for 10 days.
This is good on waffles, French toast and vanilla ice cream.