12 September 2008

Basil: an essentual herb

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Do you do basil? I love the stuff. I have grown it off and on over the years with varying results. In the past, I have never had a place to properly dry herbs: a dry, warm place with air circulation. This year we installed a Tuff Shed because we needed to get a lot of things out of the garage so CarGuy could work on the latest car. Yipee! I finally have a place to store all my tools and what-not. Plus it has the added benefit of being a drying shed.

Back to basil. I know that basil is best used fresh, but let's get real: I live in Colorado. Basil is an annual and it really only grows here for the months of July and August. June is a chancy month because of hail storms. I have made fresh pesto and I love to take a few leaves and chop them up into a green salad. Mmmm... But I have too much basil to use so I am drying it. Do you know how good that shed smells? Heaven!

I pull the plant out of the ground and rinse both it and the roots well. I then I tye a string around a bundle of plants just above the roots using a slip knot. To tighten it well, I swing it in a circle over my head which has the added benefit of flinging the water off the leaves. I then hang it from a nail in the shed.

You know, this reminds me of when I was a child. There was an old Victorian house in my grandfather's neighborhood. A pretty yellow house with white gingerbread trim. The old lady who lived there used to dry things on a string strung between the pillars on the front porch. I'm thinking that this lady was probably about the age I am now and not really an old lady. Every time I dry herbs or use my dehydrator to make fruit leather I think of this lady and the things she used to dry. I remember one thing that looked like human ears. Scared the daylights out of this 10 year old girl, I tell you. I wonder what it was she was drying that looked like ears? Any ideas?

Paula's Pesto
4 cups tightly packed basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts or almonds
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
6 sprigs parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Place the basil in a food blender, not a food processor. (Don't try this with dried basil, it won't work.) Add the oil, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and nuts. Blend until all are chopped very fine but not smooth. Remove from the blender and stir in the grated cheese.

Use in soups and on pasta.

13 comments:

  1. Place the basil in a food blender, not a processor.

    HUH? (It's 9:30 & I have been up since before 5 - but I still can not figure out what a food blender is?)

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  2. Yummy! We had pesto just last night.
    You can make your pesto up and freeze some for winter. Some recipes say to not add cheese until ready to use. I'm 50/50 on that. Ice cube trays or my new favorite in a Ziplock sealed and flattened for space saving.

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  3. I'm sure the shed smells wonderful! Do you think she was drying some sort of a mushroom? I can imagine how frightening that must have looked, I don't like seeing the Pigs Ears all bagged up at the pet store; yuck!

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  4. I bet they were apricots. Same general color and they start out a little bigger and a child's ear.

    I love the image of you swinging the basil around your head!
    :-D eirdre

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  5. I love basil! I had a hook in my kitchen that I dried the basil on. It was right above the trashcan, so I didn't have to worry about leaves falling anywhere. When I took out the trash I would invariably bump into the basil, and the fragrance would be revived. So, I kept a sprig there year round, just for air freshening!

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  6. I'm jelous of your basil. My herbs didn't do so well this year.

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  7. I have never tried growing herbs but have always thought it would be so neat to have fresh herbs for my cooking.

    I know this is not an herb, but is kind of funny. I recently had a recipe that called for parsnips. I have heard of parsnips, but never seen one, so I take of to the local grocery and could not find them anywhere. I asked several ladies who were also shopping and they did not know what they were either. Even the grocer did not know. Any of you ever use a parsnip?

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  8. I bet your shed smells wonderful with the basil drying in it!!
    Vicki

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  9. I don't make pesto but love using fresh basil in my cooking. I haven't grown herbs in my last two house and seeing this I kind of miss being able to go out and snip them fresh for dinner.

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  10. Teresa - parsnips look like carrots but they're white. Don't care for them myself.

    Don't know if they would look like ears, but I saw dried pig snouts in the pet store (for dog chews), and they were CREEPY!

    The only herbs I grow successfully are Italian parsley and rosemary. Anybody can grow rosemary. It started out in a peat pot and ended up a bush!

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  11. I love basil and I do what Libby does with the pesto in baggies. The other easy to grow herb is Thyme. I have it all over my yard. It comes in lots of yummy varieties like lemon or lime and different colors, too, dark green to silver and yellow. It's a perennial that survives under the snow here at my place.

    And be sure to have a little flower pot of chives. Also very easy to grow.

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  12. oh man I remember my mom's basil. I totally want to come and inhale in your shed!!
    another great thing to do with only fresh basil is to make basiled scrambled eggs!~ saute the fresh basil in some butter before you put in your eggs. YUM!

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  13. LOVE BASIL! LOVE PESTO!! Don't eat pasta though.......so sad, so sad.

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