I’ve written about my basil windfall, previously. I can’t help but write about it, again! The fragrant plant and its deep green leaves, says, “summer” to me. Never before, have I enjoyed this over-abundance of basil. Now, let’s talk about basil.
Basil, also known as “St. Joseph’s Wort” belongs to the mint family, along with catnip, spearmint, and peppermint. Most Italian-style cooks use basil in many dishes, because it goes well in tomato-based dishes. I like to use basil in much of my cooking, and the marriage of tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil can be a sublime experience when used in soups, sauces, beef roasts, and grilled lamb. The vegetarian or vegan can even use different combination for vegetable dishes.
Pino Luongo, one of my favorite cookbook writers (actually less cookbook and more stories to go along with the ingredients of favored recipes) talks about the way he uses basil in his Tuscan cooking. He reminds us not to be tied, so much, to recipes that tell us how much of what to use. Luongo, says, “Use your senses, and learn through trial and error.” He also suggest that we “improvise based on your acquired knowledge.” I come from a family of people who like to cook, so that’s an example of my “acquired knowledge”. Of course, I add, use safe food handling practices.
Besides being in Italian cooking, basil has a popularity in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Having just eaten Pho (Fuh, which means noodle) today, which is a wonderful soup with cellophane noodles in a generous beef broth (in today’s case), I delighted in the soup brought to the table in its cavernous bowl. Presented separately, on a small plate, are bean sprouts, mint or basil, and a wedge of lime. We place the sprouts and mint/or basil in the steaming bowl of soup and top is off with a squeeze of lime. I’ve only had Pho with beef brisket in its broth with its condiments.
Holistic health practitioners recommend basil for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties. This comes from Medical News Today, and it adds that basil is “nutrient heavy” and calorie light, but then I cannot think of any herbs considered calorie heavy!
As mentioned, previously, I continue to find ways to preserve my basil, in addition to drying it for later use. In the dead of winter, I love pulling my frozen pesto from the freezer, as green as the day I put it in. Yes. I’ve related that in previous blog entries.
Seasoned Basil Freeze
With the large batch of basil plucked from the plant, I decided that 15 jars of pesto may need to be enough (actually my plan is for 20-25 small jars before winter sets in), I decided to preserve some pesto as a seasoning. I took one large bowl full of basil leaves.
All together, it compresses into 2 heaping cups full in the blender vessel.
To that I added:
- 1/4 cup Mediterranean olives – pitted
- A dehydrated mix of celery, onion, mushroom, red pepper – 1 Tablespoon
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon smoked salt
- 3 grinds of black pepper
- 1 cup of olive oil (add more if mix is too thick)
I blended this until nice and liquid. I put it into the freezer, and use the “seasoning” in dishes throughout the winter months. Remember, the olive oil preserves the basil perfectly, and (I say it again), it’s as green the day you thaw it as the day you froze it. Look at that color!
I prefer freezing such things in glass. Remember to label it, and put the date on it so that you use the oldest items first.
Enjoy, and thank you for reading.