Archive for the ‘Basil’ Category

Corn on the Cob with Basil Butter

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

This is so simple it really isn’t even a recipe. However, it IS my favorite way to eat corn on the cob.

Fresh corn on the cob

Butter at room temperature

Basil, cut into shreds with a sharp knife

Prepare basil butter by chiffonading the basil into thin shreds with a very sharp knife and mixing with softened butter.

If you have a microwave, this is the healthiest and tastiest way to prepare corn on the cob. The earthy fragrance of just-picked corn freshly microwaved in its husks is unbelievable, plus corn microwaved in its jacket retains much more of its nutritional value.

Cut off any excess stem from the stem end  so the corn can rotate on the turntable but do not disturb the husks or try to remove the silk. Microwave on high as follows:

1 ear,  2 minutes; 2 ears, 4 minutes; 3 ears, 6 minutes; 4 ears, 8 minutes, etc.

Remove the corn from the microwave, wrap in a towel and let rest for 5 minutes, then (using a pot-holder or protective gloves) peel off the husks and the silk. Serve with lots of basil butter. The heat of the corn releases the basil fragrance in a wonderful way.

NOTE: Pesto is also a really good substitute for plain butter.

NOTE2: Microwaving is an easy prep for freezing corn right on the cob: nuke the ears (possibly reducing the time slightly), let cool then remove the husks and silk and break cobs in halves or thirds. Freeze solid then pop into freezer bags for winter storage (freezing first prevents them from sticking together so you can unfreeze only what you need).

NOTE 3: Frozen 1″ thick rounds of corn cut right through the cob add a festive South American touch to winter stews.

Pasta with Sauce of Uncooked Tomatoes and Basil

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Everybody must have a favorite version of this easy supper for a hot summer night. Here’s mine:

Tomatoes fresh from the garden
Generous amount of olive oil, maybe about 1/3 cup
Salt & Pepper
Linguini or spaghetti

Optional: minced garlic added to tomato mixture, crumbled Feta or fresh mozzarella cubes as a topping before serving

Dice the tomatoes into a bowl. Add a generous amount of torn fresh basil leaves. Add salt (this draws juices from the tomatoes and makes part of the “sauce”). Add a generous amount of olive oil — it becomes the second part of the sauce. If you are using it, add the minced garlic.

Let this sit on your kitchen counter for a couple of hours to exchange flavors while you sip iced tea in front of the fan.

When you are ready to eat, cook the pasta and drain, then stir hot pasta into the tomato mixture. The heat from the pasta warms the sauce and releases the fragrance of the basil.

For a more substantial meal, crumble feta or toss fresh mozzarella cubes on top of the pasta.

Anne Harvey’s “Potluck Pesto”

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Last evening in the garden, Ted was trying to give away a huge bunch of assorted fresh herbs, and he and Anne and I got to exchanging recipes. Anne mentioned her “Potluck Pesto” which she said turned out to be amazingly tasty. It will keep indefininly if you freeze tablespoons of it on a cookie sheet and store in zip-lock in the freezer. Here’s what to do:

Survey your garden for any herbs you might consider “pesto worthy”. Anne specifically mentioned arugula, mint, celantro, basil, tarragon, dill, marjoram, perhaps a tiny bit of lavender — use your imagination, there are no rules here. Pick everything in the proportions that will taste good to you, and when you get home get rid of stems and other “grassy” non-flavorful parts.

Here’s a basic pesto recipe to get started:

    1 cup assorted pesto herbs
    4 heaping tablespoons of parmesan or romano cheese, chunked or grated
    A few fresh garlic cloves (optional)
    Enough extra-virgin olive oil so that your blender can do it’s thing (start with 4 or 5 tablespoons)
    Handful of walnuts
    Salt to taste

Wash and spin dry the herbs. Put herbs in a blender along with the parmesan/romano and olive oil and blend till you get a lumpy paste. It may take a bit of coaxing to get the blending process to initiate. Add a handful of walnuts and blend till not-quite smooth. Transfer to serving dish and add salt to taste. Adding a squeeze of lemon is also another possibility.

I made it last night and Anne is right, it is delicious.

Elizabeth Coleman’s Pasta with Pesto & Cherry Tomatoes

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Early this morning, Elizabeth Coleman was in her plot picking cherry tomatoes and basil and getting ready for a trip to North Carolina. When I happened by, she gave me a favorite recipe from her mother which she planned to make the first night at the beach. It sounded so good and so easy that I made it for lunch today.

* Pesto (Elizabeth makes her own, but you can also buy it ready-made from Claudio in the Italian Market)

* Pasta (I got something called “festoni conditi” from Claudio’s, which is a big beefy pasta full of nooks and crannies and colored with tomato, spinach, beet, and squid ink powders, but almost any pasta would work. I’m not sure what kind Elizabeth uses — she didn’t say)

* Cherry tomatoes

Cook the pasta till al dente and drain. Melt a generous dollup of pesto into the hot pasta and sprinkle with lots of halved cherry tomatoes. When I tried it for lunch today, I garnished it with a bit of fresh basil from the garden and some toasted pine nuts. It was delicious.

Herbs to use when cooking dried beans…

Friday, July 1st, 2011

I am currently cooking my way through “Fagioli: The Bean Cuisine of Italy” by Judith Barrett. Since dried beans are the basis for so many salads, soups and entrees, I was interested in which fresh garden herbs Italians traditionally use to flavor dried beans during the initial cooking period.

The general idea is to soak the bean of choice overnight, then drain, rinse and add fresh water, herbs, & sea salt, and simmer slowly until done. Beans are usually stored in the fridge with their cooking liquid until used in another recipe Here’s a summary of what herbs go with which bean in the initial step:

White beans (cannellini, navy, great northern) — sage only, sage & whole garlic clove, bay leaf only, whole garlic cloves with bay leaf, or rosemary.

Cannellini only: Rosemary alone or rosemary & garlic are good, as is sage and garlic. Cannellini are also good with fresh marjoram.

Chick Peas — bay leaf goes surprisingly well with chickpeas, and lots of Italian chick pea recipes call for bay leaves during the initial cooking period. Cynthia Rafferty’s bay leaf tree is a good source in the garden. Sage and garlic are good alternatives to bay leaves. Rosemary and garlic also go well with chick peas.

Split and Skinned Favas (available at Claudio’s in the Italian Market) — bay leaf

Red Kidney beans go well with bay leaves and garlic

Lima – sage

Dried beans in general– Summer savory