Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wonderful Basil, how I love it!

Basil is so easy to grow and hands down my favorite herb for fresh eating.  I started all my basil from seed this year, and have several times snipped a few leaves here and there, up to this week.  This is my first full cutting from yesterday.  Last week with the hot, wet conditions I came home from a week away to an abundance of Basil.

As some of you know, I do use many herbs medicinally.  Basil is not one I rely on, or have lots of experience with in that arena, though it is said to have benefits.  According to a college study in India, properties in Basil can reduce swelling up to 73% for a full 24 hours!  That's impressive.  I think I need to start experimenting more with this one for my husband!  It's also said to be a great anti-oxidant full of vitamin A (eyesight) and Iron among MANY other things.  Check out Off the Grid news and  Medical News Today for some more information on the medicinal uses.  

So what do I do with lots of Basil?  Eat it of course for the wonderful flavor!  I'll add it fresh to any kind of pasta or salad.  When I have a lot I make pesto for the freezer.  Just use your favorite pesto recipe and put 1/2 cup or so into zip lock sandwich bags, then toss the sandwich bags into a larger gallon freezer bag and label it "pesto packs".  In the winter you can pull out as many as you need to use as a spread on sandwiches or burger, put in pasta or serve with crackers.   
consistency you're looking for

My Favorite Pesto-which happens to be Vegan
2-3 cups Basil leaves (stems removed)
3-4 T. light olive oil (to taste/texture, can use 1/2 water to save calories)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (can substitute Parmesan for non-vegan but won't have same "bite")
1/2 cup pecan mean
Salt to taste
Keep in mind, all ingredients are "taste" and I may do more or less depending on how much basil I had.  Just put it all in a food processor and pulse till you get the desired consistency.

Today I used Basil to made a potato salad, and am using the rest of my haul to make a pizza pasta salad for tomorrow's dinner.  I created my own version of potato salad, though you can search the web and find lots of recipes. 
Southwest Basil Potato Salad

Southwest Basil Potato Salad
4 Idaho Potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups of basil leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder 
4 T. olive oil
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

1/3 cup sour cream
Cook Potatoes in boiling water till just tender (not too soft).  Drain, cool and set aside.  Place rest of ingredients into food processor and pulse till chopped and mixed.  Mix with reserved potatoes and chill several hours before serving.

And last, one of my daughters favorite (she chose it as one of the things to serve at her graduation open house.)

Pizza Pasta Salad - Modified from a recipe
3 cups penne pasta (tri-colored is nice if you have it)
1/2 cup dried Roma cherry tomatoes dehydrated in hot water (can buy sun dried in a pinch)
1 pkg. of mini pepperoni (or slice full size in half or even quarters)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup torn basil leaves
1/2 cup (or to taste) Parmesan
Bottled Italian Dressing (1/2 cup or to taste.)
Cook and cool the pasta.  Drain the dried tomatoes.  Toss pasta and tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients, chill and serve.

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