basil, but not pesto
I have lots of basil from my farm box this week, but don't really like pesto. any alternative suggestions so that it doesn't go bad?
We're in the same boat: big bunches from the CSA every week for the past 6 weeks, and I don't really like pesto either. It keeps really well in a vase of water on the kitchen counter, which helps because I'm more likely to add it to things if I can just pull leaves off and chop them up. So, it's going into most vegetable dishes I'm making. I also whirled a big bunch with garlic and olive oil in the food processor and put it in a glass jar, topped with more oil. It's not really pesto, and not all that delicious, but it's keeping a nice green for later when the bunches stop coming (and I want to eat basil again). I've thought about trying some of the ice cream or sorbet recipes posted here in earlier threads, but I'm not sure we'd eat it.
I've also started leaving basil at friends' houses when we go somewhere and are asked to bring a dish, excuse being that I've brought the basil for garnish. I also brought last week's bunch to work as a free giveaway.
Basil vinegar will keep for a long time. Wash and spin dry the basil leaves. Pack into sterile jar. Cover with vinegar that has been heated to a simmer. Seal. This does not require water-bath processing due to the acidity of the vinegar. For shorter storage any nonreactive lid can be used whether or not it will seal. When you are ready to use some, strain out the basil leaves.
We prefer rice vinegar, but white wine vinegar also works well. This vinegar is especially good when made with red basil. A vinaigrette made with basil vinegar will help supermarket tomatoes a bit.
Unlike basil oil, there is no danger of botulism caused by the botulin spores that are endemic in many soils and get splashed onto leaves by rain or sprinklers.
I know you're thinking "avocados and basil?!" but trust me, it works very well, especially on top of toasted french bread slices. Kind of like a sophisticated, grown-up guacomole.
Juice of 1 lemon
scant tsp. kosher salt
2 cloves of garlic (more if you like garlic)
2 medium ripe avocados
1 c. basil leaves, chopped
1/4 c. finely chopped scallions
Mash the avocados and stir everything else in to taste. Adjust as desired.
Thai basil chicken.
1 lb ground chicken or diced chicken (white meat), 1 bell pepper sliced, lots basil leaf, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 Tbs fish sauce, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp (more or less to your liking) sambal or any Chinese chili paste.
Stir fry chicken with a bit of oil, add garlic and cook until the chicken is cooked through. Add bell peppers, fish sauce, sugar, chiili paste stir fry until the peppers are almost cooked at this point add in basil leaf to wilt the leaf. Serve with brown or white rice.