BASIL

Ocimum basilicum

We treat basil like a flower bouquet by storing it in water on the counter.  Try not to let the leaves touch the water.  You can also wrap it in a damp towel and refrigerate, but I’ve never had luck with this myself.  Try to use basil as quickly as possible.  You can freeze the leaves in a zip-lock bag.  Pesto freezes easily, too.  We freeze a few batches for a taste of summer in the winter.

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Pesto
From Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
6 to 8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Combine ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until you have a rough paste, scraping down the sides as neccessary.  You will end up with about 1 cup of pesto.

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Tomato Basil Dip
From From Asparagus to Zucchini

3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1 tbsp or more minced garlic, mashed to a paste (use a garlic press or flat of a knife)
5 tbsp chopped basil (chop it medium-fine)
1/2 red onion
dash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
thinly sliced, lightly toasted baguette slices

Lightly toss tomatoes, garlic, and basil.  Drizzle with olive oil, splash with balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Give a quick stir and serve with baguette slices.  This recipe, from cooking instructor Yana Beranek, easily doubles or triples.  The quantities and flavors can be adjusted to one’s own taste.  It’s beautiful when made with yellow and red tomatoes.  Leftovers are good as a salad dressing.  Makes about 8-12 servings.

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