On one recent trip, we came home carrying an armload of basil, quite literally. It was bigger than most bouquets I have seen- I had no idea basil could grow that big or have stems that thick. I bought the bunch quite greedily and readily, and plunged it into a vase when I got home, and then bit my lip and said, uh oh. Now I had to think of something to make with all that basil. And I had to think fast, because the poor basil leaves were wilting by the minute in the merciless heat.
My bookmark folder came to the rescue- it contained a recipe involving fresh basil that came highly recommended. My dear friend Cathy told me about this recipe exactly one year ago and I dutifully bookmarked it. The weeks went by, basil went out of season and the bookmark waited patiently for the next summer to arrive. Now, by some propitious alignment of the celestial bodies, I finally had all the ingredients on hand- fresh tomatoes, fragrant basil, raw cashews and whole wheat linguini.
Once these few ingredients are sitting on the kitchen counter, you are only minutes away from a fantastic meal. The pasta boils away, the sauce take a spin in the food processor and a quick simmer with fried garlic, and that's that- dinner is served!
I followed the recipe closely, only adding an extra fresh tomato and 2 tablespoons of pasta sauce instead of the tomato paste because that's what I had on hand. I used white wine to thin down the sauce a little. I've been amazed by Lolo of Vegan Yum Yum before (remember the knit cupcakes?) but now I'm convinced of her brilliance. Her Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta is super in all kinds of other ways, being super rich and super creamy and super vegan, not to mention super duper yummy ;) Promise me you will try this recipe. Cathy, I owe you one!
I used a handful of fresh basil leaves for that pasta, and still had, oh, about an armful left! V and I spent the afternoon making pesto, filling it into little tubs and stacking them in the freezer. A bit of research led me to the Everyday Food site and this pesto recipe designed specially for the freezer. I liked the idea of blanching the basil very briefly in boiling water to preserve the color. It also wilted the basil and made it easier to pack into the food processor. Freezer pesto is made without parmesan- that can be added later after thawing, if desired. We followed the recipe as directed to make a big batch of pesto.
We did use pine nuts in this recipe, and they were fine, but these days, I seem to be reading of that weird pine nut mouth thing everywhere, so I'm going to think twice about eating them from now on.
I must say having my own stash of pesto in the freezer makes me feel very smug and domestic goddess-y! I simply thaw a tub overnight in the refrigerator and it is fresh and tasty even when thawed. We have been using it for pesto pasta salad, as a sandwich spread and simply slathered on good toast.
This celebration of fragrant basil is off to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Haalo this week.
I'll leave you with a picture of our intrepid hiker Dale. This dog won't play in the dog run, looks annoyed if you ask him to "fetch" and naps the whole time he is at home, BUT he absolutely loves to walk. He can hike for hours and is surprisingly sure-footed (which, of course, is easier if you have four feet). On Saturday, we popped over next door to lllinois and Dale spent all morning leading us through Pere Marquette state park.
I'll be back with my first attempt at an Argentinean recipe (perhaps the only Argentinean thing a vegetarian can eat?!). See you then.