Sunday, April 25, 2010

Keeping Basil Fresh: with out the tatoo, earring and surly expression

Get it? Fresh? You guys suck....

I like fresh basil but sometimes you get this stuff home from the store and it's either wilted, wilts by the next day or has brown patches all over it. This herb is pretty delicate, so unless you're planning on having a little pot of it growing on a sunny window sill, you're gonna have to get creative. Let's face it guys, most of us live in cities where we're lucky if our apartment has a window, never mind sun.

What you need:
  • basil
  • olive oil
  • ice cube tray
  • blender

Step 1: Pesto? Wasn't he in Goodfellas?

No, he was not. Pesto is a kind of sauce that can contain any or all of the following: basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste. You get the idea. This kind of pesto is just basil and olive oil. You can use it in soups, stews, sauces or add it straight into hot pasta.

Step 2: You can pick your basil, or pick your nose...

But you can't put your basil behind the couch. Ew. Moving on.

Look for basil that is very green, has minimal or no brown spots or yellowing leaves. Sometimes this cannot be helped, especially with organic or home grown basil. Yellow leaves means not much flavor or fragrance. Brown leaves are kind of the same and have the added bonus of looking ugly. Can you still use this? Sort of. Does it matter if you're making this kind of pesto? Not really but you want to have the best if you can get it.

Sometimes the basil can be very sandy. If you have a salad spinner, soak the basil in the spinner, change the water as many times as it takes to run clear, and then spin it to get off the excess water.

Step 3: Yes, it will blend.

You don't need the stems, just the leaves. Pull off as many good looking leaves as you can and throw them in the blender. Add the olive oil and pulse the blender until you get a paste of oil and basil.

Step 4: Fill, freeze and forget it.

After you get this pretty paste, fill the ice cube tray slots about 1/2 way. Put another layer of the olive oil on top to keep the paste green and fresh. You can now stick it in the freezer or keep it in the fridge. It will last up to a month or so in the freezer, but only a couple of weeks in the fridge. Check it occasionally for any signs of mold. If you see mold you have to toss that cube section. Otherwise, take the tray out about 30 minutes before you start cooking. By the time you need it, depending on cube size, it will be ready for you.

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