Basil is a beautiful, fragrant herb that has many uses in the kitchen. There are several varieties including basil with a lemon flavoring, thai basil, and purple basil, which has a deep purple color throughout the whole plant. Basil must be protected from frost as it cannot tolerate cold temperatures, and it requires a high amount of sunlight. This herb is harvested many times over the course of the growing season. Using a scissors or carefully picking with your hands, pick only the mature, large leaves. Over the next few days the smaller leaves will grow large enough to pick. Think of it as giving the basil plant a “haircut” rather than a “shave”.
Basil has many uses in cooking. It’s delicious eaten raw in salads, sandwiches, or pizza. It’s a great herb for pasta dishes, especially in spaghetti sauce. Basil is probably best known, however, as the main ingredient in pesto. Pesto has a variety of uses and lends itself well to alterations and additives. It goes well as a sauce for pasta, on sandwiches, as a spread or dip, or whatever else you can think of!
Recipe: Fresh Basil Pesto
2 c fresh basil leaves packed
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan-reggiano or romano cheese
1/2 c extra virigin olive oil
1/3 c pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium-sized garlic cloves minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine the basil with the pine nuts and pulse a few times in a food processor (If you’re using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they’re not already chopped, pulse them a few times before adding the basil). Add the garlic and pulse a few times more. Slowly add the olive oil in a costant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. source: elise.com
Recipe: Penne Paste with Sun-Dried Tomato, Cherry Tomatoes, and Pesto
1 lb penne
1 c prepared pesto
12 cherry tomatoes halved or quartered (to your taste)
1/2 c oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes cut into slivers
1/4 c toasted pignolia nuts, freshly milled black pepper to taste
1/4 c parmigiano-reggiano cheese shaved
fresh basil leaves
Prepare pasta according to package or until al dente. Drain in colander and transfer to heated serving dish. Pour on pesto and toss to coat pasta. When pesto is mixed in, add cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomato slivers and nuts. Season with freshly-milled pepper to taste. Top with parmigiano shavings and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serves 4-6. Source: www.inmamaskitchen.com
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