I got a massive amount of basil from the CSA this week. Here, in fact, is a self portrait taken with the basil in hand for scale. I think you will agree that this is a lot of herb, dude:
After quickly polling the internet on how to keep it fresh for as long as possible, I wound up trimming the ends and putting it in a vase of water as if it were a bouquet of flowers. I then put a plastic grocery bag loosely over the top. Almost a week later and the few stems that remain still have fresh, green leaves.
Over the week I added the basil to tons of salads, especially combined with the wonderful tomatoes I also received from the farm. Add a little olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper and you have yourself a treat. (Fresh mozzarella is optional of course, if you eat dairy, but totally not necessary, AHEM.)
Of course, you had to figure a bunch of pesto was also in order. And you were correct. That’s exactly what I made today. The last time I had made pesto, I thought the raw garlic was a little too, well, raw-garlicky, so this time I roasted it first. That was sort of a problem — I liked the flavor it brought, but I should have waited for it to cool down thoroughly before adding it to the mix. It was too warm and therefore caused the basil to wilt a bit, turning the mix a very dark green instead of the spring-like fresh green I desired. It tasted good, of course, but lesson learned!
(This photo is from my previous batch with the raw garlic — I didn’t photograph today’s batch because the color made me sad.)
Here’s how I do a vegan pesto (amounts are approximate):
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3-1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
all the fresh basil you have
1-5 cloves of cooled down roasted garlic (to taste)
1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional — adds a salty/cheese-like flavor)
Blend all the above in your cheapo walmart belnder and don’t worry. It will blend up just fine.
Here’s what I made with it for dinner:
Whole grain rotini
Field Roast vegan sausage
fresh roma tomatoes from the farm
some fresh basil leaves
I cooked the mushrooms and crumbled vegan sausage in a pan with a little olive oil, deglazed it with a splash of white wine from my glass, and tossed in the chopped tomatoes just to warm them up at the end. I added this to the cooked pasta and put a couple big globs of pesto in there and stirred it around. As you can see by now, this is a highly technical recipe. I hope you are paying attention there in the back row.
This dish was so good and satsfying that I literally exclaimed aloud to my empty apartment about it. Go forth and try!