When we planted our vegetable garden this year, I had an ambitious list of what I wanted to grow. Onions, cabbages, and tomatoes but most especially - herbs. I planted rosemary, some thyme, and A LOT of basil.
SO MUCH BASIL.
Thank goodness we love it, right? I've had to get a little creative in my cuisine so we can incorporate it into our meals without my family tiring of it.
I've heard through the grapevine that home vegetable gardens have been out of control this year. That is awesome! Is it the fact that people have been home and want to teach their children how to grow their own food, why? Or, are we trying to become more self-sufficient by gardening to trim retail demand for produce? I think there is something fundamentally good about growing your own food, and the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies it, am I right? Whatever your reason - I hope this trend continues.
I pulled out my recipe book looking for some basil inspired concoctions, to use this bounty I have grown. Because I love this herb so much, and I do have plenty to choose from, I have picked my top three I thought you might like to try.
15 minute Easy Margherita Flatbrad Pizza
A delicious easy recipe your family will love. I buy the pre-made flatbread from the grocery store, usually located beside the naan bread (which you can use as well). I usually make 6 of these for my family - but the recipe will be per flatbread.
You will need:
6 pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese sliced to 1/3-1/2 inch thickness
1 tomato sliced as thin as possible
5-6 leaves of basil, chopped
3 cloves of garlic pressed or 1 tsp dry garlic powder
1.5 tbsp Olive Oil
1.5 tbsp Balsamic glaze (recipe included*)
Salt and Pepper to taste
*Make-Ahead Balsamic Glaze.
Take 2 cups of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Put in small pot and heat together. Stir it, while bringing it to a full boil. Then, reduce heat to medium to low heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. If it coats the back of a spoon it's ready. Remove from heat and let cool, about 15 minutes
Instructions for Pizza:
Press the 3 fresh garlic cloves and mix the 1.5 tbsp oil.
Brush the flatbread with oil and garlic with half of the mixture. Place in preheated oven to 350 degrees F, for 5 minutes to crisp up.
Remove from oven, and place the cheese on top of flatbread, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, place tomatoes. Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Time to broil, for 2-3 minutes. Important to not walk away at this point and watch it.
Remove from oven, add remaining garlic and oil, sprinkle chopped basil on pizza and place back in the oven at regular temperature (not on broil) until edges are golden and basil is cooked.
Drizzle balsamic glaze on pizza and enjoy.
Honey Dew and Fennel Salad with Basil
A lovely summer salad, full of fresh ingredients. Perfect for a brunch, or a nice unique side dish for dining with friends.
You will need:
1/4 cup raw pistachios
1 fennel bulb
6 tbsp olive oil
1/4 3-pound honeydew, rind and seeds removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups basil leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast pistachios on a baking sheet, turning once until golden brown about 6-8 minutes; let cool. With a mortar and pestle, pound most of the nuts until finely ground, but make sure there are several course pieces left (you can do this with a ziplock bag and pound with a mug or rolling pin). Transfer to a small bowl
Remove stalks from the fennel bulbs, and then remove fronds from stalks. Fronds are the frilly green leafy things attached to the stalks. Quickly chop fronds until you have about 1/3 cup (I don't like mine too fine). Transfer fronds to bowl with nuts, and stir in oil. Season pistachio oil with salt (to taste). Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline, shave fennel crosswise. You can also cut fennel bulb for smaller pieces, with a knife, for finer smaller bite portion.
Place melon and shaved fennel in a large bowl, and grate the zest from the lemon over, then squeeze the juice into the bowl. Drizzle with vinegar and season with salt; toss the salad to combine. Add basil (chopped, but not to finely) and gently toss again.
Arrange on plates, drizzle with reserved pistachio oil. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
Tomato and Basil Spaghetti
This recipe will go down as the one my kids will make for their families. It's a yummy one. We made this a couple of years ago when we had an abundance of tomatoes and basil from the garden.
You will need:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
4 oz. - Italian Sweet Sausages (removed from casing)
4 oz. - Spicy Sausages (optional or just double the sweet sausages)
1 large can of peeled tomatoes (I usually do 3 cans, but like to freeze remainder)
1 can of tomatoes paste (use 156 ml is only using one can of tomatoes, 369 ml if making 3 cans or more)
2 handfuls of fresh basil (I don't really measure here, the more the better)
1-2 sprigs of rosemary (to taste)
1 tbsp of dried oregano.
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup of red wine.
Heat olive oil in a large pan and add onion and garlic. Remove sausage from the casing and cook thoroughly.
In a food processor - add tomatoes (with juice), oregano, basil, rosemary, and blend together. Take the cooked sausage mixture and the pureed tomatoes and herbs, and add to a large pot. Add a cup of red wine and salt and pepper to taste. Place on stove, and let simmer on medium for 45 minutes. About 30 minutes into the simmer, add the tomato paste. Stir in well.
Spoon onto some pasta, and enjoy.
We all love to cook in my family, so for us, using fresh ingredients, especially ones we have grown ourselves, is especially satisfying. I hope you have enjoyed learning about some new recipes to try with your fresh basil, I know you will love them.
Happy Eating - Buon Appetito!