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Take a trip to any outdoor market or garden and you’ll see an abundance of basil right now. As I mentioned last time my wonderful neighbor generously gave me a whole bag of fresh basil leaves last weekend (already washed I may add – so thanks for your labor Becca)!

I’ve always aspired to be a gardener. For a long time I thought I was, just because it fit well with my passion to cook, and cook with quality, unprocessed ingredients. So, I assumed that I was already a gardener. Well, what I’ve discovered over the years of pretending, under and over watering, and just flat out neglect – I now admit I am a garden consumer and not a grower. I apologize to the multitude of brown, dry, lifeless plants I’ve thrown out over the years. We all learn the hard way.

Okay, so now you’ve heard my gardening history and know you won’t see me behind the stands at any farmer’s markets. I will be walking the aisles with my bags full, grateful for all who put the hard work and time into growing colorful and flavorful produce, for as my Grandma likes to call it, brown thumb people like me.

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So basil, huh… what can you do with it? Many, many things beside growing it. Basil pesto is my go to because it’s easy, delicious and requires a large amount of the sweet green leaves. And who says you can’t use it for dessert? Fresh juicy peaches (also strawberries) pair excellent with basil to use as a topping for low fat frozen yogurt or ice cream. Some previous basil posts: Roasted Veggie & Fresh Basil Bowls, One Pot Basil Marinara with Meat Sauce, Greek Chicken Salad Pita Pockets or Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps.

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Whether you’re picking or buying your bunches this weekend enjoy!

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FRESH BASIL PESTO
gluten free & dairy free option
makes about 1 1/2 cups

• 2 cups FRESH BASIL LEAVES, packed
• 1/4 cup PINE NUTS
• 1/2 cup FRESH PARMESAN CHEESE, grated*
• SEA SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE
• 2 cloves GARLIC
• JUICE FROM 1/2 A LEMON
• 3/4 cup OLIVE OIL, EXTRA VIRGIN, 100% first cold pressed

*Dairy free option: Omit parmesan – add extra pine nuts if desired.

1. In a good blender or food processor add fresh lemon juice, garlic, pine nuts and basil. Pulse a few times to start processing. With blender running gradually add olive oil and blend until smooth. Pulse in parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately, or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate (may need to mix in additional olive oil before serving). Makes about 1 1/2 cups pesto. Serving size, about 2 Tbsp.

Use pesto as a topping for fish (salmon, tilipia, cod), toss with cooked pasta and vegetables, top on scrambled eggs or egg sandwich, as a topping for pizza instead of tomato sauce, toss with roasted potatoes or use as a topping for bruschetta/garlic bread.

VARIATIONS: Use other nuts for pine (like walnuts) or omit. Substitute fresh baby spinach, arugula or parsley for some of the basil.

NUTRITION INFO PER SERVING: 160 calories, 17g fat, 3g sat fat, 1g carb, 2g protein

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PEACHES & FRESH BASIL
gluten & dairy free
makes about 6 cups

• 6 cups PEACHES, FRESH or FROZEN, thawed & sliced
• 3 tbsp PURE HONEY (or to taste)
• 1/3 cup FRESH BASIL, chiffonade cut

Toss peaches with honey, stirring well to coat. Fold in fresh basil. Serving size, about 1/2 cup. Eat as is, chilled or as a topping on low fat frozen yogurt, light vanilla bean or coconut milk ice cream, shortcakes or grilled chicken.

VARIATIONS: Substitute or add fresh sliced strawberries for peaches. Lightly sauté or roast peaches in a little olive, grapeseed or coconut oil before adding honey and basil.

NUTRITION INFO PER SERVING: 60 calories, 0.5g fat, 12g carb, 2g fiber, 8g sugar, 2g fiber

PRINT RECIPE – PDF (includes both recipes)

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