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Eclecticisms: Featured Herb: Basil

Friday, July 15, 2011

Featured Herb: Basil

One of my absolute favorite herbs is basil. The fresh taste, the "zing" it gives any dish, the ease in growing it (we have about 5 plants) and its versatility are just a few reasons I love this green plant. Virtually calorie and cholesterol free, basil is a guilt-free way to add kick to many dishes.

Growing basil: Grow some in your yard for fresh, "free" basil all summer long. It's asinine what they charge for basil in stores ($3 for a few leaves? Gimme a break!), but luckily there are many ways to freeze it so you don't have to worry about getting it from the store. I plan to blog about wintering basil at the end of summer, so keep an eye out for that.



Health benefits/Nutrition: Basil is high in anti-oxidants, beta-carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin B9 and Vitamin K.

Cooking: Fresh basil loses a lot of its flavor swiftly when cooked, so it is best to add it to dishes only a couple of minutes before they are done. A great method for cutting basil is to roll up the leaves (you may do several at a time, stacked upon each other) and slice them lengthwise. This will give you long, thin strips of basil, just like you see at fancy restaurants.

Recipe:

Basil Aioli

Basil Aioli is a fantastic dressing for sandwiches, grilled veggies or dipping steamed artichoke leaves in.

Ingredients
Measurements are estimates on what I used to make enough for about 6 or 7 sandwiches. Adjust as needed.

3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup mayonnaise

Using a food processor, chop up the basil and garlic.



Mix together with mayonnaise and stir well. Add lemon juice (not too much, as it will water it down) and stir well again.


This dressing is best served cold and will keep 3-4 days if kept refrigerated and sealed.

I had some on my pseudo-chicken sandwich with melted brie and tomato. Yum!


Happy noshing!

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