Right now, my garden is abundant with both tomatoes and basil, a perfect pairing. My mouth waters at the thought of a fresh tomato basil pasta sauce, or a simple caprese salad. These flavors are just meant to go together.
When I picked basil this morning I was shocked. What started out as two little hydroponic basil plants turned into a massive bush. I trimmed it down to about a foot tall and I still got enough basil to fill half of my kitchen sink. When I have this much basil to use all at once, I'm forced to find something to do with it that stores well. That's when I turn to pesto. It's easy to make and I can use a lot of basil at one time. Since it freezes well, I can make nearly unlimited amounts and have access to garden freshness any time of the year. Pesto is great on pasta, roasted vegetables, mixed into a vinaigrette, or stirred into sauces and marinades, but this recipe for tomato basil bites will give you a new perspective on pesto.
This fragrant herb isn’t just for pesto. In fact, with over 60 varieties of basil available, there’s hardly a cuisine that couldn’t benefit from this herb. Basil is high in iron, providing as much ounce for ounce as spinach. A 1/2 cup serving also contains a whopping 98% RDA for Vitamin K, an important nutrient in blood clotting and bone health.
Here are a six of my favorite basil varieties:
1 - Genovese Basil – this is the variety of basil most people recognize. It has broad leaves and a sweet aroma and is used in traditional pesto and Italian dishes.
2 - Thai Basil – has smaller, pointed leaves and a hint of anise aroma. Use this variety in Thai red and green curries and in Vietnamese dishes like pho.
...And What Do I Do With It?
This week's CSA share contained red leaf lettuce, arugula, carrots, radishes, green cabbage and cilantro.
Adding some local fresh lemons, this week's share became a fresh, healthy salad and a tasty roasted veggie with pesto dish that I could eat every night of the week.
For the salad, I combined the lettuce, arugula, carrots and radish and made a zesty, fresh salad dressing:
Food lover, organic enthusiast, amateur gardener, cook, veg-evangelist.
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