What I Did with a Whole Bunch of Basil


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:

How do I keep basil fresh for as long as possible? This is how much I got this week from my CSA.

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.

[207/365] Tomatoes and Basil

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!

[188/365] Pesto

(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 with Pesto

Whole grain rotini
portobello mushrooms
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!

6 thoughts on “What I Did with a Whole Bunch of Basil

  1. Clarabella July 31, 2011 / 7:25 pm

    That looks delicious.

  2. LizScott August 1, 2011 / 7:38 am

    I love basil – and pesto – so hard. Nom Nom Nom.

  3. Rose-Anne August 1, 2011 / 12:51 pm

    Oh, man, those vegetarian sausages can add so much flavor to a dish…yum! Your pasta sounds amazing.

  4. John August 1, 2011 / 5:41 pm

    Your CSA posts are the best. I’m suffering through a bout of cruddy weather in July! Daytime highs for the month have been about 18°C or less, with nighttime lows around 7°C. Normal for July is 26° or more. Awful, awful.

    In addition, voles have been ravaging my garden. Recently they have begun eating the roots of my brussels sprouts plants. Aside from that, however, the rest of the garden is moving along. I still have yet to pick a ripe tomato (cold weather is not favourable to tomato plants).

    Have been doing a great deal of hiking and I have come across two isolated sites that are absolutely full of wild blackberries (mûres in French) and sloes. I seem to be the first to have come across them and will be returning to these sites to take advantage of the free bounty! (Almost like CSA, but not quite).

    • Kate August 3, 2011 / 1:07 pm

      Wild blackberries sound amazing! I’m also laughing a bit about the voles over here. “Voles.” The name has comedy built right in! I hope your tomatoes ripen up.

  5. Kate August 3, 2011 / 1:07 pm

    Thanks, all! It was great! I might even make it again tonight.

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