My Italian Nana always called basil basilico, and so did the rest of my family. So, it wasn’t until I was an adult when I started referring to it as basil, because most people just gave me a funny look if I said basilico.
Well, all right, there were probably a lot of other reasons why people gave me funny looks, as it seemed I was always doing something odd.
One year I planted so many basil plants that I actually had to throw out a lot of the frozen pesto sauce I’d made, as it was getting too old. I even gave a lot of it away. The plants went crazy that year, growing up to my hips and the more I cut, the more they grew.
Those of you who know me or have seen me in person might be smirking right now because I am only 5 feet tall, but you get the idea. If you grow your own fresh basil or if you buy it in the produce aisle of a store, you might like to check out some of this week’s recipes.
Basil is so versatile; you can use it in sauces, breads, main dishes, salads and even beverages and desserts.
I must admit I am not a fan of basil beverages and desserts. Just being honest. Well, let’s see what we have here. Hope you’re enjoying the summer so far.
Basic pesto sauce
I have used walnuts when I didn’t have pine nuts and it works just great.
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic (I would need a lot more than that)
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese (or Parmesan)
1. In a food processor, combine basil leaves, garlic and pine nuts. Process until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the olive oil and process until mixture becomes smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
2. If using right away, add the remaining olive oil and process again. Pour out into a serving bowl and mix in the grated cheese. If you want to freeze the sauce, transfer to an airtight container and drizzle the remaining oil over the top rather than mixing it in. Freeze for up to three months. When ready to use, thaw and mix in the cheese. Makes about 1 cup.
Zucchini pea salad with fresh basil
I prefer to blanch the zucchini a bit before adding to this recipe.
1 medium zucchini
4 large basil leaves, chopped
30 pods English peas
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Solid piece of Parmesan Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Shave the zucchini into ribbons using a mandolin or Y peeler.
2. Shell the peas and steam them for about 1 to 2 minutes; rinse with cold water.
3. Mix peas and zucchini with lemon juice and olive oil. Season well and mix in chopped basil. Shave pieces of Parmesan Reggiano on top and serve.
Nice little appetizers and so fresh tasting.
24 grape or cherry tomatoes
12 cherry-size fresh mozzarella cheese balls
24 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Herbs for seasoning and salt and pepper, optional
1. Using 12 bamboo or metal skewers, alternately thread 2 tomatoes, 1 cheese ball and 2 basil leaves. Place on a serving platter or individual plates.
2. Whisk oil and vinegar in a small bowl and season if desired with herbs of your choice or salt and pepper. Pour over the tomatoes, cheese and basil. Makes 12 skewers.
Easy, no yeast.
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 to 4 ounces cubed fresh mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, do not pack tight
2 1/2 tablespoons grape-seed oil (can use olive oil)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8-by-4-inch bread pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well mixed.
3. Add the basil, mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes to the flour mixture and blend well.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and buttermilk. Pour liquids into the flour mixture. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. (The dough will be sticky.)
5. Transfer the dough into the prepared bread pan and spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.) Makes 1 loaf.