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Banish the doldrums with basil

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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.

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Basil Pesto

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.



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