Summer Week 16 (Sept. 27)

fullsizerender-60

Small: romain x2, miniature romain, basil, lettuce mix, spinach, arugula, watermelon (cantaloup picarde) patty pan, zucchini, boo choi, beets, red potatoes, carrot, tomatoes

fullsizerender-59

Medium add: bitter melon, flowering kale, romain, miniature romain, asian broccoli, bok choi.

Last week of Summer shares. Red Potatoes, watermelon, and basil are a welcome new addition. Bitter melon is new for mediums. Toss the cut melon with salt and let sit to reduce bitterness and try a Chinese stir fry or here are some Filipino recipes. Blanch the ornamental/flowering kale to help with bitterness. Toss some basil in with your cut watermelon. Make some pesto, which you can freeze.  I love using the romain as a lettuce wrap, here’s a vegetarian mushroom bulgogi (the marinade is amazing, I keep it on hand) or beef.

Advertisements

Pesto, generic

Pesto, which most of us know as a saucy mix of basil, garlic, and oil, tossed with pasta, is actually a generic term for things made by pounding.  It is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, at least in Italy.  It is far easier in a food processor or blender.  Pesto is an incredibly versatile vehicle for using up produce at the height of freshness.  I’ll give you a generic basil recipe with some rough proportions, but it can be adjusted to taste with a free hand and ingredients are limited only by your imagination.  Basically, you need something bright and fresh, something nutty, something salty, and something oily.  (And as a side note, you’re not far off from hummus with this recipe, which also has infinite variations involving beans and seasoning.)

Generic Basil Pesto

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 cups washed and dried basil
salt and pepper
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated hard cheese (pecorino romano, parmesan, italic)

Chop the garlic and pine nuts in the food processor.  Add the basil and pulse until a thick paste forms.  Season and add the oil while the food processor runs.  If you are making a dip or spread, add less oil.  If you’re tossing it with pasta, add a little more.  Lastly, stir in the cheese.  This will keep a week in the fridge (longer in the freezer) if you put a thin layer of olive oil on top to seal it in.

Alternatives:
– try cilantro, parsley, sorrel, spinach, or arugula as a partial or full substitute for the basil
– create a red pesto from sun dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers
– try almonds, cashews, walnuts, or beans as substitutes for the pine nuts
– cilantro, garlic, edamame beans, a little ginger, and a little sesame oil to replace some of the olive oil (cheese isn’t necessary for this one)
– cilantro, garlic, chipotle chile, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) — fantastic in tacos, especially with a little tomatillo included
– scapes (coming soon), green garlic or green onions in place of most of the basil and garlic

Not Your Average Basil: Using Thai Basil

Photo Courtesy of Xotic Spice

Thai Sweet Basil, or Anise/Licorice Basil (Bai Horapa): This tropical variety of sweet basil provides the unusual basil flavor present in so many Thai dishes that it has come to be identified as “Thai basil” in America, even though the Vietnamese and Laotians also use lots of it in their cuisines. Its leaves are deep green, smaller and not as round as Western sweet basil. They grow on purplish stems, topped with pretty, reddish purple flower buds. Both leaves and edible flowers are have a strong basil scent and an equally strong under note of anise or licorice. The flavor is just as distinct as its scent, when some people think of licorice – black twizzlers come to mind, but the flavor is much more complex and exciting to the palate.

Plentiful in Thailand, bai horapa is eaten almost as a vegetable, and I have found it’s flavor equally pleasing whether it is raw or cooked. It goes well with anything made with coconut: milk, cream or juice. It is also a great replacement for cilantro…

As with many leafy herbs, this basil can be kept fresh by placing it in a glass with the cut ends in water, covering it with a plastic bag and storing it in the refrigerator. Or, you can wrap the herbs in paper towels before bagging them in plastic before refrigerating. They will stay fresh for about a week.”-excerpt and picture from the blog Xotic Spice 

I still have a bag full of Thai basil left in my refridgerator, so I am hoping to try this recipe for Thai basil pesto.

Thai Basil Pesto-courtesy of the blog From Scratch

Ingredients:

•1/3 cup peanuts

•1 cup Thai basil

•1/3 cup cilantro

•4 cloves garlic

•1 TB lime juice

•1 small red chili (I left the seeds in, if you aren’t a spice fiend you might want to scrape the seeds out)

•1/3 cup vegetable oil (although, next time I’m going to try peanut oil, I was out when I made this)

Directions:
I am sans food processor right now, so I just tossed all peanuts, herbs, garlic, and pepper in my spice grinder, tossed the resulting paste in a mixing bowl and added the lime juice and the vegetable oil and used a hand mixer to combine everything. I used half of it for Rice Noodle Stir Fry with Thai Basil Pesto , and froze the other half in a ziploc bag in the freezer.

Note: Because of the lack of a substitute for the cheese in Italian style pesto, this paste doesn’t have much in the way of a salty flavor. Next time I make this I may add a TB of fish sauce–but then again may not, since almost everything I will probably cook with this with with have Nuoc Cham on the side.

Let me know how you’ve been using your Thai basil at produce@zoegarden.com.

Jessica