About a year and a half ago, we planted some basil in a half of an old wine barrel. I'm not sure if it was the variety of basil or the container, but it was never very happy. It grew strongly flavored tiny leaves that were just no fun to chiffonade. We did not have a loving relationship. This year, we planted Genovese basil in the garden. As you can see below, this plant is happy and is producing beautiful, fragrant, delicious leaves. Basil loves the sun, so AZ is a perfect place to grow it as long as you give it lots to drink.
Pesto is a no-brainer for using the bounty of basil coming off of this plant. It's super easy to make, freezes great and makes dishes pop.
Makes about 1 1/4 cup
3 cups lightly packed basil leaves, stems removed
3 cups lightly packed spinach leaves, large stems removed
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Add basil and spinach to food processor with a large bowl. Pulse a few times to make more room in the bowl. Add remaining ingredients, except for olive oil. Pulse a few more times to roughly blend ingredients. Scrape down the sides of processor bowl. Turn processor to the on position. Slowly drizzle olive oil down the tube until mixture is well blended an emulsified. Pesto can be served immediately, stored in the fridge for up to a week or frozen in smaller batches for easy use later on. GF
Lets go for some more B action. True story. My step-daughter (I hate that term because it seems kind of impersonal and she is amazing) offered to cater her cousin's wedding last year. In turn, I volunteered to help. We made and ate so many bruschetta that weekend, we both swore we would probably not eat it for years to come. Well like childbirth and other painful experiences, the memory fades with time. I'm back to my bruschetta making and eating ways. This version featured another of my favorite "B" foods; beans. Cannelini Beans are perfect for a mediterranean appetizer. The salty and piquant capers and kalamatas compliment the mild creamy beans. Get some really crusty Italian baguette to make an impressive small plate for your friends.
Bruschetta with Mediterranean White Beans and Pesto
1 - 15 oz. can Cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, measure after chopping small
1 tablespoons capers
12 kalamata olives, quartered
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil from sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup Basil-Spinach Pesto (or your favorite pesto)
8 slices of toasted baguette
8 small basil leaves for garnish (optional)
In a medium size non-reactive bowl, combine beans, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, olives, vinegar, and olive oil. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. The bean mixture can be used immediately, but I highly recommend giving it at least and hour to let the flavors meld and really get amazing. You can make this the day before as well.
Spread about 2-3 teaspoons basil on each slice of baguette. Top with about 2 tablespoons of bean mixture. Add a small dollop of pesto and a basil leaf on top for garnish.