A Handful of Summer

Artie picked this from our garden this week.  So fresh and vibrant.  This is what it is all about – enjoying seasonal foods when they are at their peak.  This basil was still warm from the hot Florida sun shining on our garden.  The smell of the handful of basil perfumed the kitchen with the essence of summer.

Oh basil, how I love thee; let me count the ways: I love you in herb butter on ciabatta bread.  I love you with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of olive oil.  I love you on pizza and pasta and pretty much any Italian dish.  I love you in pesto (duh!).  I love you with watermelon, feta, and a sprinkle of salt (it’s good, I promise!).  I love you on top of Thai eggplant, in tomato soup, and in tofu and broccoli stir fry.  So many ways to love basil!

In her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver talks about her frustration with her local newspaper food columnist who writes recipes for basil pesto made with “tender, young basil leaves” in December.  December?  In December, our basil plant will be a frosty memory and acquiring enough basil to make pesto from Publix would cost a small fortune.  But, we can enjoy this delicious treat all winter long by taking a little help from the freezer.  The easiest way to store fresh herbs is to wash, dry, chop, and mix with olive oil (basically make a pesto) and then freeze in ice cube trays.  Once frozen, the herb cubes take up very little space and can be added to soups, stews, or pasta sauces all winter long.

Oh basil, how I love thee; let me count the ways…