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Food

The Virtual Panier - Basil

Posted by Kim / August 1, 2007

20070801_vpbasil2.jpgThis past weekend, I trudged home from the Jean-Talon market, in the rain, carrying heavy bags and water running down my face. But even windy rain and three tons of vegetables couldn’t deter my happiness, because in my other arm I held my new basil plant, inhaling its spicy fragrance all the way home. Yup, it’s basil season here in Montreal and it’s time you go and get yourself one. Forget buying like herb packs, just bring home the entire plant! At the markets, a big pot of basil will run you about $10, and that gets you a lot of basil. It’s the gift that just keeps giving (and does make a great gift for a friend), as it’s a good, hardy plant that can easily grow the rest of the summer in its pot, and once winter strikes, it’ll keep just as well indoors, granted it’s given enough sunlight. Basil likes full sun and a lot of water, but make sure the water can drain well. Pinch off leaves from the top of the stalks to use in any cooking you’re doing and basil becomes an easy and cheap way to spice up your kitchen.

Before we delve into the world of pesto, here's some of the not-as-obvious reasons why you want basil in your house. First, it is the sandwich ingredient of the gods. Fresh tomato and mozzarella cheese on bread becomes divine with a few leaves of basil. Okay, that probably should go into the obvious reasons categories. How about some basil tomato soup? While cooking basil kills most of the flavour (so never steam or blanche it like you would spinach), when it’s made into a soup, the broth keeps all the basily flavour that seeps out of the leaves. Same goes for a nice basil cream, a great topping for most grilled fish. Over medium heat, cook 2 cups of white wine with 6 cloves of garlic until the wine reduces to about 1 cup. Add 4 cups of cream and salt to taste and boil. Add 4 cups of basil leaves, cook for under a minute, and pour the entire concoction into a food processor and, of course, process. It makes a thick cream if you pour the mixture into a bowl that is sitting in a bit of an ice bath and stir, stir, stir until it cools.

Basil mashed potatoes are also a big hit, and easy to prepare. Boil a few pounds of your favourite mashing potatoes, and melt 4 tablespoons of butter with 1/2 cup of milk in a pot. Throw the boiled potatoes in the pot, and 2/3 cup sour cream and mash! Add salt and pepper as you like, and right before serving, toss in 1/2 cup of chopped basil. A creamy variation on the usual mashed potato dish.
20070801_vpbasil4.jpgAnd then there’s pesto. Perhaps the easiest thing to make, ever. If you haven’t made it yet, go ahead and do it, it’s the perfect thing for all the non-cooks out there. Just put all the ingredients into a food processor and you’re done! There’s a million pesto recipes, so no need to add another to the list. I will offer up a few tips though. Choose your cheese wisely. I like to use a mix of pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. Adding a cup of parsley in with the basil makes for a nice bite, as does adding a pinch of red pepper flakes. And don’t be stingy with the pine nuts! Use pesto on pasta, of course, but it’s also great as a pizza sauce, instead of tomato, or mix some in with butter to make basil-butter. All leftover pesto (yeah, right) can be frozen in ice cube trays, leaving you with pesto cubes for a quick meal in the future.

Ten dollars has never been so delicious.

Discussion

9 Comments

VC / August 1, 2007 at 04:10 pm
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Really? I bought a basil plant once and it died almost immediately. Then again, I think I was living in a basement at the time, so there wasn't much light...
kim / August 1, 2007 at 04:17 pm
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Really! Basil plants are a breeze to take care of.

I keep mine in direct sun all day (yeah, basement-living may have been your problem), but if it's going to be a scorcher, I bring it to a shadier area. Water pretty much every day. Pinch any flowers that bloom. That's it!
Justin / February 4, 2015 at 07:22 am
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Making bread isn't all that difficult relaly just time consuming. All you need to make sure you do if have the water warm but not hot, the yeast needs to grown and ferment, body temperature does this but never boiling as this will kill the yeast. Give it a go though, it's cheap to make so if it goes wrong you won't be out of pocket either.
golu dolls / March 5, 2019 at 10:10 pm
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nice post
Kanchipuram sarees / March 5, 2019 at 10:12 pm
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nice post
Kanchipuram sarees / March 5, 2019 at 10:12 pm
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nice post
Herbal Powder / March 5, 2019 at 10:13 pm
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nice post

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