What To Do With All That Basil

If you planted basil in your garden this year, then, if it's anything like mine, this is when it’s really getting crazy.  Every year I tell myself that next year I’m not going to plant so much basil, and next year I can’t even help myself.  It’s a garden tradition in my life that I must always plant enough basil to supply half the Western hemisphere.

Be that as it may, having an abundance of basil is not such a bad thing.  I use it all summer long, and when it starts to get ahead of me, I bundle up as much as I can and make batches of pesto for sauces and dressings. 

Or I just pluck it all in a vase and let that intoxicating fragrance permeate the house.  This year I made a basil pistachio pesto that was just incredible, and I also made some basil oil.  I never even knew I needed basil oil until I made it.  Now I can’t imagine being without it.

First, the pistachio pesto.  I love basil pesto.  You've heard me say it many times before, but I will say it again.. I love it.  And it just so happens that one of my all-time favorite nuts are pistachios. 

Now, imagine my joy at finding a recipe which so beautifully combines these two into one harmonious sauce that I now cannot get enough of.  Oh, wait… that should be of which I cannot get enough.  The dangling participle police are out there.  You know who you are.

The second recipe I must share with you is this incredible basil oil, which, as it turns out, is so easy to make, I cannot even believe I haven’t done it before.  You just briefly blanche your basil, squeeze it dry and throw it in the blender with your oil.

After you have it all blended, strain it into your container and that’s it! 

Once you’ve made some, you will most likely be as hooked as I am.  It’s awesome drizzled over tomatoes, soups, potatoes, any kind of cheese-y open faced sandwich, on eggs, and my favorite application, a healthy drizzle over bruschetta topped with tomato and melted mozzarella.  Simply divine. 

So whether your garden is besieged with basil or not, these are two recipes you’re gonna want to try.  Here’s how you make them…

BASIL-PISTACHIO PESTO

Recipe adapted from Relish Magazine

Click here for a printable recipe

I have taken the original recipe and altered it a bit to suit my tastes.  I don't like a really oily pesto, so I usually substitute water for some of the olive oil.  I love the texture this produces, but feel free to omit the water and just use olive oil.  I also prefer lime juice to lemon juice in pesto, so have made that substitution as well.  I've provided a link to the original above if you would like to refer to it.

1  garlic clove
1/2  cup shelled pistachios
2  cups loosely packed basil
1  tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1/2  teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Place garlic in food processor; pulse until chopped. Add pistachios, basil, lime juice and salt; pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Add the water and olive oil gradually through food chute and process until well combined.   Add more water or olive oil as needed to make a smooth, moist sauce.  Add cheese and pulse 2 or 3 times.  Makes about 1 cup of pesto.

 

BASIL OIL

Recipe from Tasting Table

Click here for a printable recipe

Although the original recipe suggests you can only keep this in this refrigerator for a week, I've been using it for the past couple of weeks and it is still very fresh and flavorful.  Just be sure it is in a good, air-tight container.

Yield:  1 cup

Ice
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
¾ cup grapeseed or canola oi
l¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Fill a medium bowl with ice and water and set next to the stovetop.

Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the basil leaves. Once they have just wilted, about 5 to 10 seconds, use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer the basil leaves to the ice water. Once cool, place the leaves in a folded kitchen towel or a few paper towels and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Place the basil leaves in a blender and add ½ cup of the grapeseed oil. Blend until roughly chopped, then, with the blender running, add the remaining grapeseed and olive oil and purée until completely smooth.

Strain into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.

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