The Little Good Ride

embellished true stories of the south
SEPTEMBER 12, 2010 10:54PM

A Bounty of Basil

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Basil
  

 

In the Victorian language of flowers, basil signified love or good wishes.  In Ancient Greece, it was the "royal" herb.  In India, it is sacred and is believed, in the Hindu religion, to protect the dead from evil.  It is often planted around temples there.  In Italy, it signifies love, and a pot of basil placed on the windowsill of a single woman indicates her willingness to entertain suitors.   

"A man taking basil from a woman will love her forever."

Sir Thomas Moore

So goes the famous quotation, and I abide by it wholeheartedly.  I put basil in just about everything, and so far, my husband has stuck with me for going-on 15 years.   

This hot, hot summer, when my garden scorched early on and never recovered, one crop managed to survive.  That crop was basil.  It's done remarkably well despite the heat, and we've eaten it in a wide range of recipes from main courses to drinks to desserts.  We've added it to sauces, put it on pizzas, made a delicious basil simple syrup to add to lemonade for an interesting twist, tossed it with fresh berries and balsamic vinegar, and made countless caprese salads and sandwiches.  This summer, I discovered Thai basil stir-fry, and I've begun adding it to all of my fried rice and stir-fried dishes.   If you can cook it, you can add basil to it.

 Now that summer's winding down, it's almost time to harvest what remains of it and make one last batch of pesto for the freezer.  I freeze the vibrant sauce in ice cube trays and pop them out as needed.  Adding a cube or two to your pasta or pizza sauce takes it from delicious to divine.  Thawed and tossed with hot pasta, pesto makes a quick and easy meal for a busy night.  Used as a sandwich spread, it elevates grilled cheese, turkey,  or vegetable sandwiches to "favorite" status.  I love basil for its delicious flavor, its preservability (it's a fantastic memory of summer in the middle of winter!), and its versatility.  Not to mention its man-catching properties.

 A few of my favorite basil recipes:

 

Basil Lemonade 

1 cup basil simple syrup (see below) 

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 cups cold water 

Mix well and serve over ice, garnished with fresh basil sprigs.

 

Basil Simple Syrup

Bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil.  Add 1 cup fresh basil leaves; remove from heat.  Let cool, then strain leaves out.  Add to iced tea or lemonade.

 

Pesto

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 TBSP pine nuts, toasted in a skillet until fragrant

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 cups fresh basil leaves

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Whir the garlic and pine nuts in the food processor until minced.  Add the basil and cheese.  With motor running, add olive oil in a thin stream through the feed tube until desired consistency is reached (should be spreadable but not too thin or it gets too oily).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Can be used immediately or frozen in ice cube trays.  Once frozen, pop out of trays and store in freezer in a zip-top bag. 

 

The BBT Sandwich

2 slices whole-grain bread, toasted

Thick-sliced tomato

Handful of fresh basil leaves

3 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked

Mayonnaise (the good stuff)

Spread mayonnaise onto bread.  Layer tomato, basil, and bacon on top, then top with second slice of bread.   Can add lettuce, avocado, cheese, etc., if desired. 

 

BBT with Basil Corn Chowder
BBT with Basil Corn Chowder
Beef & Basil Fried Rice 
Beef & Basil Fried Rice

 

Text and images (c) 2010, Lisa Kuebler

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Comments

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Yummy.. I like putting strips of fresh basil on tomatoes...yummmmmmmmm
Rated with hugs
I've an abundance of basil...had the basil bacon tomato sandwich tonight yum yum ! Thanks for these recipes! I love basil and your post! r
Mmmmm, basil. Love it! I've got pots and pots of pesto put by, thank goodness. Wouldn't want to run out . . .

Rated
Lisa, I adore basil too. I will try the lemonade for sure-- that sounds really interesting.
I love basil in anything. Any! Thing! Then Thai basil! Unfortunately, I can't grow any of it without slugs moving in. Fortunately, we have a Thai market just around the corner. My husband has grown accustomed to getting a sliver of basil in everything as well.
Got to try the Basil Lemonade. Nothing beats fresh picked basil. Store bought pesto tastes dead in comparison.
Okay - next year I'm going to plant basil again. If for nothing more than the aroma in the garden!
Daughter #1 likes basil in her lemonade. Thanks for the reminder to put away some pesto for the winter - my basil is just about played out, especially in the dry weather lately. I think I'll have a BBT for lunch - what a great idea!
Great ideas, Lisa. I love basil too. In Turkey it is kept as an indoor plant year long because of its pleasant fragrance, and frankly I didn't know it was eaten until I moved to Canada. Now I use it in many recipes as well as grow a pot of it in my window sill. ~r
Thanks everyone!

Linda - I do, too! Basil and tomatoes...they were made for each other.

Persistent Muse - I did, too! Yum. :)

Theresa - Pesto is in my plans for this week. My freezer stash is gone, and I need to restock.

Linda - it is! Let me know what you think if you try it.

Bell - I wonder if it would grow in hanging pots, to keep the slugs out? I also like Fusun's idea of growing it indoors. I may have to try that!

Grace - I agree about the store bought pesto. Freezing it seems to work, though. The olive oil keeps it from turning dark, and it still tastes very fresh, to me. Give it a try!

mynameise - I will always grow basil, even if I grow nothing else. :) It's pretty forgiving in the garden, and the aroma is fantastic.

Lucy - I love it in lemonade, too. Enjoy the BBT! I was hoping to repeat it for lunch today, but the bacon snatchers came through my kitchen and ate what I was trying to save. Not sure if I'll make it back to the grocery store BLT (before lunch time).

Fusun - I had never thought to grow it indoors. I'm going to try that, for sure! I'm always sad when summer ends and it dies out. Thanks for the idea!