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Banish the doldrums with basil

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.

The fresh taste of basil is wonderful any time of the year.
The fresh taste of basil is wonderful any time of the year.
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Basil has an unforgettable taste that speaks of summertime and vacation.
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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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