Basil Recipes

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Basil Pesto

4 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed well
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden, cooled, and chopped fine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 ounces)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor or blender, purée basil with remaining ingredients until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Pesto may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.  Pesto may also be frozen.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

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Pesto Goat Cheese Spread

4 oz soft mild goat cheese at room temperature
2 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup pesto

Stir together all ingredients with salt and pepper to taste until smooth.

Cooks’ notes:
• Use spread as an hors d’oeuvre (with crackers or toasts) or as a sandwich spread.
• Spread keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week.

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Basil Lemon Syrup

This recipe makes enough for several batches of the vodka gimlets or lemonade; any left over would also give a nice hit of flavor to a glass of iced tea.

4 cups packed fresh basil sprigs (top 4 inches; from a 1/2-pound bunch)
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
9 (4- by 1-inch) strips lemon zest

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let stand at room temperature, covered, 1 hour, then transfer to an airtight container and chill until cold, about 1 hour. Strain syrup thourough a sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids.

Cooks’ note: Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 5 days.

Makes about 5 cups.

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Salmon with Horseradish Green Goddess Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil plus whole leaves for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared white horseradish
4 (1-inch-thick) salmon steaks

Place rack in top third of oven; preheat to 450°F. Blend mayonnaise, 1/3 cup chopped basil, and next 4 ingredients in processor. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle salmon steaks with salt and pepper. Spread with thin layer of sauce. Place steaks, sauce side down, on small rimmed baking sheet. Spread second side with thin layer of sauce.

Bake salmon until just opaque in center, about 12 minutes. Transfer to platter. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with remaining sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

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Green Goddess Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

Blend mayonnaise, 1/3 cup chopped basil, and next 4 ingredients in processor. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Use as a salad dressing or a spread for sandwiches.

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Basil Oil

1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup olive oil

Blanch basil in medium saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds. Drain. Rinse under cold water. Pat basil dry with paper towels. Transfer to blender. Add oil; puree until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.)

Drizzle on bread topped with roasted tomatoes.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

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Basil Buttermilk Dressing

This tangy dressing really livens up a plate of crisp salad greens. It’s also great on a baked potato or as a dip.

1 small garlic clove
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with salt using a large heavy knife.

Whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, basil, and garlic paste in a small bowl. Chill, covered, 1 hour to allow flavors to develop.

Makes about 1 cup, or 4 to 6 servings.

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Basil Lime Syrup Recipe

3/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lime, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup water
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil

Bring sugar, zest, juice, and water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let syrup stand, uncovered, 15 minutes.

Discard zest and transfer syrup to a blender. Add basil and blend 20 seconds. Pour through a fine sieve lined with a rinsed and squeezed paper towel into a bowl or glass measuring cup, then cool.

Cooks’ notes:
• Use syrup in fruit salads or to flavor drinks.
• Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 2 days.

Makes about 1 cup.

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Basil Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup well-chilled heavy cream

Special equipment: an instant-read thermometer; an ice cream maker

Bring milk, basil, 1/4 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring, then remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender (reserve saucepan) and blend until basil is finely ground, about 1 minute.

Beat together yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 1 minute. Add milk mixture in a stream, beating until combined well. Pour mixture into reserved saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 175°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Immediately remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and stir until cold, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in cream and freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours.

Cooks’ note:
Ice cream can be made 2 days ahead.

Makes about 3 cups.

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Basil Garlic Mayonnaise

Top steak, chicken, or fish with this sauce, or toss it with warm potatoes. It’s also great in a tomato or tuna sandwich.

1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 cup mayonnaise

Pulse basil, garlic, salt, and cayenne in a food processor until finely chopped. Add mayonnaise and blend until smooth. Chill, covered, 1 hour (for flavors to develop).

Makes about 1 cup.

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About prhscience

A Science Educator and her students.
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