Thursday, November 20, 2008

Basil Me

After returning from my recent trip to New Orleans, PJ expressed angst over envisioning my plane crashing, not because of losing me, but because she didn’t know how to make my basil dressing. It is always good to know where one stands in a relationship.

I confess to more than a fondness for basil. I would grow it in my herb garden except that I use so much that I would have to turn our entire hillside backyard into a basil plot. But then the dog wouldn’t have a place to dig.

I use basil lots of ways but two favorites are as a replacement for lettuce on sandwiches, and on beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes sprinkled with kosher or sea salt and pepper. Then there is pesto. I never buy pesto. My favorite lamb topping is a mint-basil pesto recipe.

I never buy salad dressings anymore. They are too easy to whip up fresh, whether a simple vinaigrette and all its variations, or my basil dressing, the easiest of them all. I read it somewhere and memorized it. If I can memorize a recipe upon one viewing then you know it’s easy. The basic ingredients are:

3 cups of lightly packed basil leaves (I discard the thickest stems)
2 cups olive oil

· Combine in a blender until finely chopped (do not puree)
· Pour mixture into a pan and heat over medium heat.
· Stir occasionally until the mixture bubbles around the pan sides.
· Remove from heat and let cool for about an hour.
· Line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth and strain into a large enough storage container.
· Store the basil oil dressing in the refrigerator and use on any number of lettuce varieties found in grocery stores.

This quantity lasts us a week. You can vary these portions as necessary based on usage. It will solidify in the refrigerator, so take it out at least 30 minutes prior to use.

It is that simple. PJ takes half of the mixture to work along with other salad fixings. Sometimes I get the containers back.

After you try this you will understand her sense of loss if something happens to me.

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