Monday, August 23, 2010

Never use a substitute when you can use the real thing

I might be able to overlook it if it were the middle of winter.

Then again, I probably wouldn't.

Basil in tube from the freezer is inexcusable.

If it happened to be winter, and if I happened to live in some remote outpost (like Brazil, maybe?) where fresh, fragrant sweet basil were not always readily available, I just might be willing to let it slide. BUT,

It is the middle of summer, fresh basil is everywhere.

It is everywhere in big bunches, most of the time for about a buck.

The big bunches keep for a couple of weeks at room temperature if you put them in a nice big vase of water. (With the added bonus that they look great on your kitchen counter)

So, last night I was speaking with my good friend Deb, who asked me how I had made the cantalope wrapped in prosciutto a few weeks ago. wrap prosciutto around cantalope.  Well, but what was it that I drizzled on top? Oh, a basil, lemon vinaigrette and some chopped marcona almonds. So Deb says, "Great, I have all of that! I'm squeezing basil right now!"  WHATTTT??????

There really is no excuse. I don't buy it when she says she can't taste the difference. Is it possible that she suffers from a lack of taste buds? Or has she been deprived of real basil for so long that she can no longer remember the difference? Or should I just call her a dork?  I'm not sure, but I will be performing a basil intervention. I am going to get her one of those big bunches and deposit it on her counter. It will be like the old advice about if you want to learn how to cook, buy a ham....(By the time you figure out what to do with all that meat, you'll have learned to cook.)

So, by the time she gets to the end of that bunch of basil, she will never resort to that crap in a tube again.

(Here is my confession, though: I do buy lemongrass in a tube and keep it in the freezer; it is not available fresh at my closest market and I often do not know in advance that I need it, if I do know, I buy it fresh.)

Here is a great use for basil: Pistou or French pesto.


In a mini processor (or use a big one, or use a mortar and pestle) combine 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1 C basil, and 1/4 C olive oil. Whir it until smooth.

Here is a great recipe using pistou:

Toast two slices of baguette. Top with two poached eggs, 2 T pistou and shaved parmesan. Try not to eat more than two, we wouldn't want you to get high cholesterol.


Deb said...

Aw, you do care!

It seems every time I buy the bunch of basil from Wegmans for $3 or whatever, it mostly goes to waste.

I think the solution is probably to cook more. Or to give the rest to my good friend June.

The Reader said...

You need a more remote outpost; I have fresh basil (and fresh mint) in my flower beds. Year round. Huge amounts; it's like a weed, and keeps the bees happy. Love the stuff.

I'm sorry Deb has to pay $3 for a bunch. How sad.

I LOVE the two recipes/suggetions - must try the cantelope thing. You served it cold? I do get a pass on the almonds, right, since I"m using fresh basil...??

I should do a "Julia/Julie project" thing with me and your blog. Think they'd make a movie of us???? I try your stuff often. Always a hit.

The Mendon Foodie said...

@Deb: you're obviously not thinking creatively enough. Toss it in to almost anything you cook for dinner. It should never go to waste!

@Reader:Yup, cold. You can use some other nuts if you like, they just add a nice crunch, Marcona almonds are just the chichi ingredient of the moment, next week all the rage will be pine nuts from God knows where or something similar.

I'm afraid I'm not larger than life enough to be the subject of a movie, but you're certainly more interesting than that Julie Powell!'

I've got a few more great basil recipes for you. I am jealous of the year round accessibility. Oh, and do they do Chimichurri sauce in Brasil? I have a great mint chimicurri from Bobby Flay. I could eat it everyday.

Another Suburban Mom said...

I buy a basil plant. For a $4 investment every two months I get tons of fresh basil.

I also like to hollow out a cantelope and put vanilla ice cream in it.


The Reader said...

What is chimichurri??? Anything from Bobby Flay would be a hit in my house. Anything Food Network, really, but Bobby Flay and Jamie Oliver are the particular heroes of a certain one of my boys. Now you have to give me that recipe, please????? You can email it to me if you like - my email is on my blog. Or just post it here. I'll find it.

Tropical weather is great for year round everything. Except we seriously lack berries. ...sigh....