I’m going to be preoccupied with basil for a while. Take a peak:
Allow me to introduce you, dear friends, to my buddy, my kitchen cohort-du-jour, Basil. It’s that time of year again, when Trader Joe’s is the proprietor of fresh, potted basil, a plant that will feed my culinary imaginings for weeks to come. Brian picked it up for me on Mother’s Day, rather than flowers (does this man know me or what?) and I’ve been admiring it all week. I’m enamored of its gracious leafiness, of its silky sheen that convinces any who look upon it that I more or less know what I’m doing.
Fresh herbs are my ace in the hole, my sure thing. My raison d’être, even, because if it weren’t for fresh herbs, I may not be here at all, culinarily speaking. My cooking got a whole lot better once I learned that if you throw in some chopped of this and a few leaves of that – at the right times and in all the right places – you effect that sensation we know as flavor.
One of the items on my life list is to grow an herb garden, and I swear I’ll do it, some future day (just trying to keep it real, to project myself through a dreamy portal just east of pragmatic – an herb garden being a far more realistic goal for me to achieve than, say, growing summer squash or green beans). I’ve made a number of efforts to sprout things in pots, and it always comes down to a severe talent deficit, an almost unjust lack of intuition. That, and I’m hard pressed to find appropriate light in my house, and the poor shoots, when I get any, whither and fade if I place them outside in our miserable heat, even in the early morning. But as I understand it, basil is supposed to enjoy heat, leaving me to conclude, then, that the problem can only be me.
If anyone out there (anyone? anyone?) would care to enlighten me, to instruct me somewhat in the care and growing of herbs, I’d be grateful. And in the meantime, I’ll share my favorite hot weather things to do with basil. What are yours?
- Chopped and mixed in a cold salad of just-tender peas, crumbled chèvre and mint
- Scattered over a pasta salad with lemon zest and shrimp
- Stirred into couscous just before serving
- Whole leaves in panini with fat slices of tomato and buffalo mozzarella
- Sprinkled into a frittata
- Boiled in a simple syrup and swirled into lemonade
- Sliced, chiffonade-style, and then spread over a grilled pizza topped with roasted corn and tomatoes
- In a vinaigrette with orange zest, orange and lemon juices and walnut oil (this was last night’s concoction, drizzled over sautéed scallops atop baby greens, avocado and orange segments)