Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I've learned the hard way that lemon basil doesn't sit around and wait for you to decide what to do with her...especially on a particularly hot and sunny day. She doesn't care if you give her a cool spritz of water, or trim her stems, or give her some nice water to drink in a pretty little vase. Here today, gone tomorrow...more like here this morning, gone by this afternoon. She's a pretty little thing, but fussy too. Kind of like my daughter. I know about the sensitive types, believe me. Rumor has it, I used to be one myself. We sensitive types need a plan of action implemented before we can put up a fight....before we even know what hits us. That way, it's done before we've had time to wilt, and usually, we discover it wasn't that bad after all.
That's why, just moments after arriving home from the farmers' market, this herb met with a what seems like a rather violent end, ground up by sharp blades in my blender. But truth be told, it was just the beginning of a beautiful marriage--a marriage of olive oil and garlic, of asiago cheese and pine nuts, and of course the princess herself, lemon basil.
If you've ever caught a whiff of her heady perfume, you'll understand why she's named after the citrus fruit. A scent as bright as her color, she has the ability to transform any dish calling for fresh basil from fantastic to fantabulous. So it's no surprise that she makes ordinary pesto extraordinary. Of course you could eat it over pasta, or drizzle it over roasted asparagus, but I like to blend it with a bit of mayo and use it to spread on toasted bread to make one heck of a BLT sandwich. Bliss!
Lemon Basil Pesto
Lemon basil is a variety of basil that can be found at your farmers' market. If you cannot find it, and want to add a lemon essence to your pesto, add the zest from one lemon, not the juice, as the acidity will destroy the bright green color. Enjoy with over pasta, roasted vegetables, as a dip or as a sandwich spread.
1 bunch of lemon basil (about 2 loose cups)
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup asiago cheese
pinch of salt and pepper
1. Wash basil well to remove any grit and cut the leaves off the stems. Place in a blender or food processor along with the garlic.
2. Using the feed tube, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whizzing the basil and garlic until you get a smooth puree.
3. Add the pine nuts and cheese and blitz until smooth.
4. Add the salt and pepper, taste for seasoning and serve immediately. If you have made this ahead, drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the top to help maintain its bright green color, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Pesto also freezes well.