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What To Do With Fresh Basil?

What To Do With Fresh Basil?
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  • What To Do With Fresh Basil?

    Post #1 - July 30th, 2007, 5:42 pm
    Post #1 - July 30th, 2007, 5:42 pm Post #1 - July 30th, 2007, 5:42 pm
    I have two basil plants growing like crazy. One is regular leafy basil and the other is spicy globe basil. What to do with them? We have made pesto and pasta with potatoes, and just pasta with pesto, and tomatoes with olive oil and basil, and I'm going to make chicken with pesto, but what else? I swear that after I harvest a bunch of leaves the plant looks larger than when I started! It's out of control. Karen calls it the beanstalk, as in Jack and the...

    Anybody have any ideas what to do with fresh basil?
    "Good stuff, Maynard." Dobie Gillis
  • Post #2 - July 30th, 2007, 5:50 pm
    Post #2 - July 30th, 2007, 5:50 pm Post #2 - July 30th, 2007, 5:50 pm
    I like the basil with chicken that I sometimes have at Thai places, so I'm planning to deploy some of my excess basil in a dish that would involve frying up the basil leaves in a little oil and butter, then mixing with chicken (maybe just browned) and rice. I have no recipe for this; I'm just going to put stuff together until it smells good. Maybe add some onion and garlic, perhaps a fresh little hot peppers from the garden.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #3 - July 30th, 2007, 6:16 pm
    Post #3 - July 30th, 2007, 6:16 pm Post #3 - July 30th, 2007, 6:16 pm
    I love white bean salad loaded with basil instead of oregano. Here is how I am imagining it, but you can use any combination of these ingredients and call it a Basil Tuscan White Bean Salad Toss generous amounts of good quality olive oil with several cans of washed white beans, a clove or 2 of fresh chopped garlic, some chopped (sweet) onion, fresh tomato, maybe some chopped parsley, lemon juice, kosher salt, fresh pepper and a whole mess of fresh basil. Toss in some blue cheese if you like it. That sounds like summer to me! I might have to run out to whole paycheck and eat this tonite.


    Also, maybe add some balsalmic vinegar too
  • Post #4 - July 30th, 2007, 6:21 pm
    Post #4 - July 30th, 2007, 6:21 pm Post #4 - July 30th, 2007, 6:21 pm
    Replace lettuce in sandwiches with basil, esp. if you have the tender large-leaved variety (of course, to taste.)

    I have gobs of lemon basil that I don't know what to do with and the otherday I though to myself..."Self - that would be a darn good replacement for mint in a mojito!" I haven't tried it yet as we have the wrong kind of rum, but basil-scented mixed drinks seem like an interesting way to go.

    Pesto freezes well; pack it in ice-cube trays and then in a ziploc; great to have around in winter to remind you of better days...
  • Post #5 - July 30th, 2007, 7:47 pm
    Post #5 - July 30th, 2007, 7:47 pm Post #5 - July 30th, 2007, 7:47 pm
    Freezing is a good idea, although rather than making pesto to freeze I recommend just whirling the basil leaves with olive oil in a blender and freezing the resulting paste, which will keep better than prepared pesto. The garlic, pinenuts and other ingredients in pesto deteriorate somewhat in freezing, so it's better to add them fresh when you use the product. You can also freeze basil ice cubes using water instead of oil.

    More ideas:

    - Basil butter is also good as a cooking ingredient or steak or vegetable topper and freezes very well, too. Make it the same way as the oil paste or beat with a mixer, using softened butter instead of oil (about 1/4 cup minced fresh basil to a stick of butter). Refrigerate it a bit to let it firm up and then form into logs on waxed paper. Wrap airtight and freeze the logs.

    - Basil salt: Layer roughly equal amounts of shredded basil leaves with kosher salt or coarse sea salt in a crock or jar, making sure each layer of basil is covered by salt. Cover and set aside in a warm place till the basil has dried and the salt is fragrant. Use as you would salt.

    - Basil vinegar: Fill a jar with washed fresh basil leaves (add a few peppercorns or chilies and/or a clove of garlic, if you like). Fill with white-wine vinegar. Cover and set aside in a warm place for a week or two, until the vinegar is fragrant. (This is especially nice with purple basil.) Strain into a clean bottle and use for any vinegar applications.

    - Infuse crushed leaves in milk or cream for basil panna cotta, basil ice cream or ganache for basil truffles.

    - Chocolate-covered basil: Dip basil leaves in dark chocolate.

    - Chocolate basil "martini."

    - Basil wine.
  • Post #6 - July 30th, 2007, 9:53 pm
    Post #6 - July 30th, 2007, 9:53 pm Post #6 - July 30th, 2007, 9:53 pm
    That's a no-brainer. Get some garlic, EVOO, pine nuts, etc., and make pesto sauce!
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #7 - July 30th, 2007, 9:56 pm
    Post #7 - July 30th, 2007, 9:56 pm Post #7 - July 30th, 2007, 9:56 pm
    Cogito wrote:That's a no-brainer. Get some garlic, EVOO, pine nuts, etc., and make pesto sauce!


    Hey imsscott, how come you didn't think of that?! :twisted:
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #8 - July 30th, 2007, 11:26 pm
    Post #8 - July 30th, 2007, 11:26 pm Post #8 - July 30th, 2007, 11:26 pm
    I never store my pesto in the freezer or refrigerator. I took Guiliano Bugialli notes and store under an inch of olive oil in my pantry (cool and dark all year). I have three types, the difference is in the nuts used: pine, English walnuts or black walnuts. Each gives a different flavor profile. Using different cheeses in the final mix is also good, pecorino, romano and parmigiano, or just use some soft butter.
    Cooking is the accumulation of details done to perfection. Fernand Point
  • Post #9 - July 31st, 2007, 1:15 am
    Post #9 - July 31st, 2007, 1:15 am Post #9 - July 31st, 2007, 1:15 am
    timidchef wrote:I never store my pesto in the freezer or refrigerator. I took Guiliano Bugialli notes and store under an inch of olive oil in my pantry (cool and dark all year). I have three types, the difference is in the nuts used: pine, English walnuts or black walnuts. Each gives a different flavor profile. Using different cheeses in the final mix is also good, pecorino, romano and parmigiano, or just use some soft butter.


    When you make these pestos are you using garlic?
    I'd be worried about the chance of botulism.
    due to the garlic in the oil anaerobic environment / breeding ground for
    botulism

    plenty of info out there on how to work with garlic in oil
    and avoid botulism
  • Post #10 - July 31st, 2007, 5:05 am
    Post #10 - July 31st, 2007, 5:05 am Post #10 - July 31st, 2007, 5:05 am
    timidchef wrote:I never store my pesto in the freezer or refrigerator. I took Guiliano Bugialli notes and store under an inch of olive oil in my pantry (cool and dark all year). I have three types, the difference is in the nuts used: pine, English walnuts or black walnuts. Each gives a different flavor profile. Using different cheeses in the final mix is also good, pecorino, romano and parmigiano, or just use some soft butter.


    t.,

    If the idea is to store the pesto for any appreciable length of time in the pantry, the concern regarding botulism which mhill95149 expresses above strikes me as well founded, though there are those who store pesto in a jar, covered with oil, in a dark, cool pantry. Whether the bit of salt that one uses in making pesto is sufficient to inhibit any growth of potentially lethal microbes, I do not know –– perhaps so and that's how people are able to store pesto in this manner without dying from botulism.

    As I've said in a thread I started on pesto a couple of years ago...
    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=41428#41428
    ...I'm a traditionalist and am inclined to make pesto fresh as I need it, throughout the long season that basil is available from my own garden. If one pines for it out of the natural, local basil season, that's hardly a problem anymore, since fresh basil is available any time of year these days. Even if the quality of the basil in winter is not as good as it is in summer (and especially early summer), I still find freshly prepared pesto more appealing than pesto that has been frozen or jarred for long-term storage. If one grows basil and has a lot of it that one wants to store for winter use, I would store the basil on its own, not in pesto.

    One last note: you mention pecorino and romano as if they are different cheeses and that is not accurate. Sheeps' milk cheeses of the sort that are called pecorino are made in various parts of Italy and those that are made in Lazio, near Rome, are called pecorino romano, as opposed to, for example, pecorino toscano or pecorino sardo, this last being the variety of pecorino traditionally used in Genoese pesto but which is generally not available in this country. Perhaps then you are using different varieties of pecorino for romano is shorthand for pecorino romano.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #11 - July 31st, 2007, 7:41 am
    Post #11 - July 31st, 2007, 7:41 am Post #11 - July 31st, 2007, 7:41 am
    Pizza Margarita and lots of it.
  • Post #12 - July 31st, 2007, 11:17 am
    Post #12 - July 31st, 2007, 11:17 am Post #12 - July 31st, 2007, 11:17 am
    I love the combination of corn and basil, so seeing that corn is all over the markets, if you're making corn pudding, or sauteeing corn, throw a generous amount of basil in there.

    You can also use basil in a myriad of cocktails muddled at the bottom of your glass like the mint in a mojito.
  • Post #13 - July 31st, 2007, 12:30 pm
    Post #13 - July 31st, 2007, 12:30 pm Post #13 - July 31st, 2007, 12:30 pm
    Yes, I do use salt, I apologize for not writing out a full recipe my post was done in haste. Additionally, I do know the difference between the cheese, you caught a typo, an additonal comma, not a misunderstanding.

    Peace
    David
    [/i]
    Cooking is the accumulation of details done to perfection. Fernand Point
  • Post #14 - July 31st, 2007, 2:31 pm
    Post #14 - July 31st, 2007, 2:31 pm Post #14 - July 31st, 2007, 2:31 pm
    Another idea:

    I chop up basil, cilantro, parsely, maybe 1/4 cup of chopped herbs, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, some salt pepper and chili powder, mix it up and spoon over fish (salmon, swordfish usually) let it sit for half an hour or so, and then grill - 5 minutes with the herb side up, flip it for 1-2 minutes, and then flip again to cook until done. I sometimes save a little of the sauce to spoon over the fish for the final few minutes of cooking.
  • Post #15 - July 31st, 2007, 5:56 pm
    Post #15 - July 31st, 2007, 5:56 pm Post #15 - July 31st, 2007, 5:56 pm
    David Hammond wrote:
    Cogito wrote:That's a no-brainer. Get some garlic, EVOO, pine nuts, etc., and make pesto sauce!


    Hey imsscott, how come you didn't think of that?! :twisted:


    I don't know! I thought of pesto and pasta, pesto with pasta and potatoes, and chicken and pesto, but not pesto sauce! What do I do with pesto sauce? :roll:

    Great suggestions so far! I also found this link of basil recipes.
    http://www.fabulousfoods.com/features/f ... basil.html
    Basil or pesto shrimp also occurred to me.
    "Good stuff, Maynard." Dobie Gillis
  • Post #16 - July 31st, 2007, 5:59 pm
    Post #16 - July 31st, 2007, 5:59 pm Post #16 - July 31st, 2007, 5:59 pm
    Antonius wrote:If the idea is to store the pesto for any appreciable length of time in the pantry, the concern regarding botulism which mhill95149 expresses above strikes me as well founded, though there are those who store pesto in a jar, covered with oil, in a dark, cool pantry. Whether the bit of salt that one uses in making pesto is sufficient to inhibit any growth of potentially lethal microbes, I do not know –– perhaps so and that's how people are able to store pesto in this manner without dying from botulism.

    I think they must just be very lucky. The risk is very high.

    Journal of Applied Microbiology wrote:Foodborne botulism is caused by consumption of preformed botulinum neurotoxin,
    with as little as 30 ng of neurotoxin being potentially lethal. Consumption
    of minute quantities of neurotoxin-containing food can result in botulism.
    The article cites a long list of botulism cases, including a 1997 episode in Italy from homemade pesto.

    Journal of Food Protection wrote:We also inoculated two foods: mascarpone cheese incubated at 25 and 15 degrees C and pesto sauce incubated at 25 degrees C. The lowest pH at which growth and toxin production occurred was 4.8 at 43 and 44 days of incubation, respectively. The lowest temperature at which growth and toxin production occurred was 12 degrees C, with growth and toxin production first being observed after 15 days. For both foods, toxin production was observed after 5 days at 25 degrees C.
  • Post #17 - July 31st, 2007, 6:04 pm
    Post #17 - July 31st, 2007, 6:04 pm Post #17 - July 31st, 2007, 6:04 pm
    Hi,

    I once fielded a question from these two guys spent the weekend before making pesto. All was fine until they said they put in jars, screwed the cap and put it on the shelf. To comment they were not happy when I advised they now had spoiled pesto is an understatement. Biology trumps wishful thinking.

    I appreciated their enthusiasm, I was just sorry it wasn't frozen or otherwise safely preserved.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #18 - July 31st, 2007, 9:27 pm
    Post #18 - July 31st, 2007, 9:27 pm Post #18 - July 31st, 2007, 9:27 pm
    I've been making smoothies a lot this summer. They're good, and if done right, healthy.

    The other day I made smoothies with ice, fresh pineapple, fresh blueberries, a little lemonade to add liquid, a little honey, and a decent sized handful of fresh basil leaves.

    They were delicious.
  • Post #19 - August 1st, 2007, 12:58 pm
    Post #19 - August 1st, 2007, 12:58 pm Post #19 - August 1st, 2007, 12:58 pm
    Oh yes - lemon basil water!
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #20 - August 1st, 2007, 3:31 pm
    Post #20 - August 1st, 2007, 3:31 pm Post #20 - August 1st, 2007, 3:31 pm
    Last week at the Libertyville farmer's market, close to the 1 pm closing time, I heard a young man at a booth call out "who wants some basil?" No one but me seemed to be paying attention to him, so I said, sure, I'll take some. I was all ready to say "what do I owe you?" but he handed it to me and moved on, and a look around the booth made it clear they had a huge amount of basil they'd just as soon not take back home. Can't get a better price than free.

    My brother-in-law, who is a much better cook than am I, says that basil freezes well, but I haven't tried it yet.

    I've been buying tomatoes, basil, and buffalo mozzarella periodically throughout the summer, trying to create a version of ensalada caprese (is "ensalada" Italian? could be my Chilean Spanish showing) that I really like. What I was missing was something starchy, and Nigel Slater (I'm halfway through The Kitchen Diaries) gave me the idea to make a salad that included torn chunks of bread. My latest attempt at My Own Private Caprese, which came closest to being my favorite so far, involved heating the three caprese ingredients in a saucepan, along with pieces of bread. Good, but still not good enough.

    Lately I've been thinking that what I really want to eat is something like a BLT caprese -- toasted bread, mayo, slices of tomato and mozzarella, and basil leaves. Maybe bacon too, though at the moment that seems optional to me.

    Libertyville farmer's market is Thursday, tomorrow. I'll report back if my BLT caprese idea turns out well.
  • Post #21 - August 1st, 2007, 5:03 pm
    Post #21 - August 1st, 2007, 5:03 pm Post #21 - August 1st, 2007, 5:03 pm
    The NY Times had a recipe for pasta on Sunday that I made last night and it was tasty - chop up some garlic and slivers of basil, mix with olive oil and let macerate all day - I would assume in the fridge (I did 2 hours on the counter). Toss in some chopped up fresh tomatoes and salt, mix up, and again, let sit. Cut up fresh mozzarella, layer it on top (the stuff I had was really too soft to chop, but whatevs). Cook up some pasta (of the spiral or shells or other of the non-long kind) and dump it on top. Let sit for a minute to melt the cheese just a little, then mix up and eat.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #22 - August 2nd, 2007, 7:43 am
    Post #22 - August 2nd, 2007, 7:43 am Post #22 - August 2nd, 2007, 7:43 am
    David Hammond wrote:I like the basil with chicken that I sometimes have at Thai places, so I'm planning to deploy some of my excess basil in a dish that would involve frying up the basil leaves in a little oil and butter, then mixing with chicken (maybe just browned) and rice. I have no recipe for this; I'm just going to put stuff together until it smells good. Maybe add some onion and garlic, perhaps a fresh little hot peppers from the garden.


    This is the biggest reason I grow basil, for this dish. My method is to fry up a mix of shallots, garlic, cracked black peppercorns, and Thai chiles. Add ground (or cubed) chicken. When the chicken is almost done, add a generous amount of nam pla (about 1/4 - 1/2 cup depending on how much you're making) and about a cup or two of basil. You should use Thai holy basil, but I think it tastes fine, if not a little different, with sweet basil. Oh, yes, and about a teaspoon of palm sugar (or regular old table sugar) to add a hint of sweetness and round out the dish.

    A perfect summer meal! Serve over jasmine rice. You can also top it with a fried egg for an extra special treat.
  • Post #23 - August 2nd, 2007, 8:49 am
    Post #23 - August 2nd, 2007, 8:49 am Post #23 - August 2nd, 2007, 8:49 am
    I like Binko's recipe and I think you can generalize from it. If you are cooking Thai food and it calls for Thai basil, just replace it with your basil.

    Also, I made the Goi Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Salad – as interpreted by Ramon) that Gary linked to in this thread and added both cilantro and basil to it. It was very good.
  • Post #24 - August 2nd, 2007, 4:50 pm
    Post #24 - August 2nd, 2007, 4:50 pm Post #24 - August 2nd, 2007, 4:50 pm
    You can freeze basil leaves in plastic, ziplock bags. They'll be mushy when thawed, so you can't use them fresh -- only in cooking -- but the flavor will be there.
  • Post #25 - August 3rd, 2007, 8:08 am
    Post #25 - August 3rd, 2007, 8:08 am Post #25 - August 3rd, 2007, 8:08 am
    I wanted to add to your original post - when you pinch off the leaves, you are promoting growth, which is why no matter how much you pick it - it grows back even more fully. Great, huh? :D

    This happens for lots of plants, including some houseplants. I think the energy that originally went to growing "up" goes to growing "out". Not a good explanation but best I can think of right now.

    One thing I do with lots of basil is make tomato sauce and then freeze it in quart sized bags, to enjoy in the winter. It will really help you use lots of it up at once.

    Enjoy!
    "Food is Love"
    Jasper White
  • Post #26 - August 3rd, 2007, 8:23 am
    Post #26 - August 3rd, 2007, 8:23 am Post #26 - August 3rd, 2007, 8:23 am
    I pinch off the flowers of my basil plant and drop them into a bottle of balsamic vinegar. It gives the vinegar a wonderful but subtle sweet flavor and floral aroma. It makes a great dressing for spinach or salad greens, all by itself. The problem is that pinching the flowers causes the plant to get even bushier. Now I have twice as many basil leaves to figure out what to do with.
  • Post #27 - August 3rd, 2007, 12:24 pm
    Post #27 - August 3rd, 2007, 12:24 pm Post #27 - August 3rd, 2007, 12:24 pm
    Spiaggia makes an absolutely devastating basil sorbet. YUM!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #28 - August 3rd, 2007, 12:50 pm
    Post #28 - August 3rd, 2007, 12:50 pm Post #28 - August 3rd, 2007, 12:50 pm
    Geo wrote:Spiaggia makes an absolutely devastating basil sorbet. YUM!

    Geo


    Yes, they do. Great stuff. We tried to reproduce it a little while back and used WAY too much basil. Anyone have suggestions for a recipe?
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #29 - August 8th, 2007, 4:07 pm
    Post #29 - August 8th, 2007, 4:07 pm Post #29 - August 8th, 2007, 4:07 pm
    While not a way to use up alot of basil, I like juleps made with basil instead of mint. This past weekend I used spicy Thai basil to good effect. Usually I use the regular basil which I think is a better drink.

    Bruise a dozen leaves of basil with about an ounce of sugar syrup, add about two ounces of bourbon and half fill the glass (or better yet silver cup) with crushed ice, stir like mad, stir some more, pack tight with crushed ice, top with more bourbon, add straw, garnish with basil sprig.
  • Post #30 - August 8th, 2007, 4:23 pm
    Post #30 - August 8th, 2007, 4:23 pm Post #30 - August 8th, 2007, 4:23 pm
    gleam wrote:
    Geo wrote:Spiaggia makes an absolutely devastating basil sorbet. YUM!

    Geo


    Yes, they do. Great stuff. We tried to reproduce it a little while back and used WAY too much basil. Anyone have suggestions for a recipe?



    We like to make basil-lime sorbet. We mix about a a cup of fresh-squeezed lime juice and about 1/2 -3/4 cup of simple syrup and water to taste depending on how sweet or sour you like your sorbet. To this we add about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped basil and about a teaspoon of lime zest. That's it. It's delightful. The lime zest is crucial. This makes about 1.5 pints in our gelato maker.

    Also we have been growing lime-basil, so we used that in the recipe and infused the simple syrup with fresh lemongrass. This is freakin-tastic.

    as to just making the basil sorbet I would try infusing simple syrup with basil and then add in fresh basil as well.
    Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously. Moses, he knowses his toeses aren't roses, as Moses supposes his toeses to be.

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