The Star in the CI Kitchen today… BASIL!

ciKitchen

Guest chef, Lisa Lewey-Shields, is back with recipes and tips using basil!

BASIL

There are over 150 species to choose from!

So much basil, so little thyme!

Genovese’ is an all-time favorite because it makes an awesome pesto and has lots of real Italian basil flavor.

‘Classico’ is another Genovese-type. The seeds are from Italy but since they do not come from Genoa they can’t be called Genovese. Those Italians are so strict when it comes to food. The flavor is the same so it is a good substitute.

citrus basil, both ‘Lime’ and lemon flavored ‘Sweet Dani’.

There are many purple basil but ‘Violetto’, another one from Italy, has the best flavor and the strongest growth. It is reliably colored purple. Many older purple varieties such as ‘Dark Opal’ produced as many green plants or two-toned ones as it did purple from a package of seeds.

‘Fine Nano’ is a sweet little mouse-ear basil that has good flavor and is perfect for growing in containers indoors or out.

There are many Thai basil to choose from

Some have purple or red stems and most have purple flowers. ‘Siam Queen’ was an All-America Selections winner years ago and it has stood the test of time. All the Thai basil have a strong licorice flavor.

‘Toscano’ is a lettuce-leaf basil that has large ruffled leaves. The flavor is a little milder than ‘Genovese’ and they are a great addition to sandwiches or salads. Some people use them to wrap sushi.

It’s best when fresh, exuding a sweet, earthy aroma that indicates not only the promise of pleasantly pungent flavor, but an impressive list of nutrients. Vitamin K, essential for blood clotting, is one of them. … Other vitamins and minerals in basil include iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium.

The most common use of basil is for cooking, such as in tomato sauce, pesto, or vinegars. But it also can be sprinkled over salads and sliced tomatoes, either whole or chopped. Actually, don’t chop the leaves, but tear them instead for the most flavor.

Basil is a warm-weather, fragrant herb that tastes great in Italian dishes—and let’s not forget homemade pesto! Plant seeds or transplants after all danger of frost has passed and soil is warm, and it will yield an abundant harvest within weeks. Keep harvesting the leaves to keep the plant going strong.

The most common type of basil is sweet basil; other types include purple basil (less sweet than common basil), lemon basil (lemon flavor), and Thai basil (licorice flavor).

Basil is easy to grow but it only grows outdoors in the summer—and only once the soil has warmed up nicely—so plan accordingly.

If you’re planning on making pesto, grow several plants. Otherwise one or two basil plants yields plenty.

Harvest/Storage

* Start picking the leaves of basil as soon as they are 6 to 8 inches tall.

* Once temperatures hit 80 degrees, basil will really start leafing out.

* Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer.

* Even if you don’t need to leaves, pick them to keep the plant going. Freeze the leaves.

* If you pick regularly, twelve basil plants will produce 4 to 6 cups of leaves per week.

* The best method for storing basil is freezing. Freezing will prevent the plant from losing any of its flavor. To quick-freeze basil, dry whole sprigs of basil and package them in airtight, resealable plastic bags, then place in the freezer.

* Another storage method is drying the basil (although some of the flavor will be lost). Pinch off the leaves at the stem and place them in a well-ventilated and shady area. After 3 to 4 days, if the plants are not completely dry, place them in the oven on the lowest heat setting with the door slightly open. Remember to turn the leaves (for equal drying) and check them frequently

Harvesting Basil

For the best flavor, cut your basil before it flowers. This will also encourage branching and increase your yield. If the flowers do get ahead of you, not to worry—they are edible and make a tasty addition to salad. Since the essential oils are carried in microscopic sacs, the flavor dissipates quickly when the leaves are cut or cooked. Basil should be added at the end of cooking to retain its full flavor. To preserve it for winter use, freeze the leaves in a plastic bag or in water. Better yet —make and freeze lots of pesto. It is delicious as a sandwich spread, mixed with yogurt for a dip, add it to soup, pizza, and of course as a pasta sauce.

BASIL PESTO

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup good-quality olive oil

3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

In a blender or food processor, combine garlic, basil, nuts, salt, pepper, and half of the oil. Puree, then slowly add remaining oil. If using immediately, stir in Parmesan; if not, freeze mixture in a resealable plastic bag, squeezing out any air. (Pesto turns brown when exposed to air.) Add Parmesan before serving.

Serve pesto on fresh pasta, spread on a halved baguette and broiled, or as a pizza topping. This recipe calls for basil, but you can experiment with other herbs such as parsley, thyme, tarragon, and cilantro. If you’re a garlic fan, feel free to use more.

Basil, Tomato, Cheese Sandwiches

Ingredients

1 small loaf French bread (or focaccia or other bread)

6 tablespoons basil pesto (or substitute olive oil)

6 large ripe tomatoes, sliced

salt and pepper, to taste

1 pound fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced

fresh basil leaves (about 24)

Instructions

Slice the French bread on the diagonal, making at least a dozen slices. (If using focaccia, split in half and slice into wedges.) Coat one side of each slice of bread with pesto or olive oil. Layer on the tomato slices, season with salt and pepper, add the mozzarella slices and fresh basil leaves, and top with a second piece of bread.

Tomato Basil Quiche

Ingredients

Crust for 10-inch quiche pan

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup slivered onion

1 clove garlic, chopped

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil

1 cup evaporated skim milk

1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 eggs

1 egg white

1 cup 1/4-inch-thick slices fresh tomato

basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 10-inch quiche pan with crust. Heat nonstick pan with olive oil; saute onion and garlic until slightly brown. Spread onion mixture on crust and sprinkle cheese on top. Top with basil.

Combine milk, cornstarch, pepper, eggs, and egg white. Process in blender until smooth. Carefully pour into crust. Carefully arrange tomatoes on top. Bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with basil leaves.

Basil Tart #2

Ingredients

1 refrigerated pie crust

1-1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

5 Roma tomatoes

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

4 cloves of garlic

1 cup fresh basil

Instructions

Place piecrust in a 9-inch pie pan; bake as directed on box (450 degrees for 9 minutes), then spread ½ cup of Mozzarella cheese and cool slightly. Cut and drain the Roma tomatoes on a paper towel. Mix the Mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and white pepper and set aside. In food processor combine the garlic and fresh basil.

Place tomatoes into pie shell. Then layer basil mixture and then the cheese mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

**You can also add Italian sausage to this tart … very go

Basil-Zucchini Extreme

Cut available zucchini or summer squash (any size below baseball-bat proportions) into chunks. Dice a medium-sized onion and a two or three cloves of garlic per quart (or so) of squash, and mix with squash in large mixing bowl.

Pour a little olive oil to cover the bottom of the biggest wok or frying pan you have. Use two if you have a lot of squash. Add vegetable mixture, cover, and cook on medium heat until squash begins to yield its water.

Uncover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has evaporated. It should be slightly browned, like caramelized onions, and reduced in volume by at least half.

Now, to each frying pan, add one full cup of finely chopped fresh basil, more if you really love basil. Adding the herb in the last minutes of cooking helps preserve its spicy, complex flavor.

Stir it well and cook on very low heat for about five minutes, longer if the mixture is still juicy. If it’s dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir to prevent burning. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Basil-Zucchini Extreme tastes a bit like mild basil pesto, though sweeter. You can serve it as a side dish, hot or cold. You can freeze it in zippered freezer bags. You can add a chunk of it to winter soups and casseroles, or make a creamy soup of it by running it through a blender and heating it with a little shredded herbed cheese.

Indoors for winter

Cut back any plants that you are digging up to bring indoors. They will suffer a bit of shock and may take a while to adjust and start to regrow. Be sure to use a large enough pot to accommodate the root ball and remove as much of the old soil as possible to get rid of any insects or their eggs. Isolate them from your other houseplants for a few weeks and spray them every 3-7 days with a soapy water solution to kill off any hitchhiking pests. To encourage new growth, begin fertilizing the plants once you move them to your sunny windowsill.

1. Greek oregano is a perennial best propagated by root division. If you have an established plant just separate off a chunk and pot it up to bring indoors. New plants can be started from seed but may take a few months to reach a harvestable size.

2. Basil is an annual so it is best to start new plants from seed or take cuttings from an established plant – they will root in water. Small-leaved varieties like dwarf Greek basil or ‘Finissimo Verde’ are best for windowsill culture but I still grow a pot of ‘Genovese’ and keep the size down by cutting it often.

3. Thyme such as caraway, lemon, narrow-leaved French, and English garden thyme are all good culinary types. They are perennials (though some may not be hardy where you live) and new plants can be divided from the parent plant.

4. Parsley is a biennial plant, which means that it goes to seed its second season. If you pot up an existing plant, use a deep container to avoid injuring the tap root. New plants can be started from seed.

5. Sage is a perennial and can be grown from a softwood cutting or by division. If you want a more decorative plant than ordinary garden sage, try a tri-colored or golden one. Their flavor is not as pronounced but they grow better indoors.

6. Rosemary is a tender perennial where I live so I have been growing it in a pot outdoors so I can bring it in when the weather cools down. If you have an established plant outside you can take cuttings. Rosemary can be fussy. It will need bright light, a cool location, lots of air circulation, and frequent misting but the extra pampering is worth the effort, especially if it rewards you with its delicate blue blossoms.

7. Cilantro is best started from seed but it grows fast. Use it before it flowers for the best flavor. Keep starting new plants from seed as needed.

Cut back any plants that you are digging up to bring indoors. They will suffer a bit of shock and may take a while to adjust and start to regrow. Be sure to use a large enough pot to accommodate the root ball and remove as much of the old soil as possible to get rid of any insects or their eggs. Isolate them from your other houseplants for a few weeks and spray them every 3-7 days with a soapy water solution to kill off any hitchhiking pests. To encourage new growth, begin fertilizing the plants once you move them to your sunny windowsill.

Do you enjoy using freshly snipped herbs from the garden as much as I do? Now that summer is winding down, it is time to think about bringing some of our favorites indoors. Here are seven herbs that will grow well on a sunny windowsill or under lights.

Everyone has some herbs they can’t do without. I’m a big fan of basil, rosemary, and oregano. What do you use the most? Here are seven herbs that will grow well on your sunniest windowsill or under lights:

1. Greek oregano is a perennial best propagated by root division. If you have an established plant just separate off a chunk and pot it up to bring indoors. New plants can be started from seed but may take a few months to reach a harvestable size.

2. Basil is an annual so it is best to start new plants from seed or take cuttings from an established plant – they will root in water. Small-leaved varieties like dwarf Greek basil or ‘Finissimo Verde’ are best for windowsill culture but I still grow a pot of ‘Genovese’ and keep the size down by cutting it often.

3. Thyme such as caraway, lemon, narrow-leaved French, and English garden thyme are all good culinary types. They are perennials (though some may not be hardy where you live) and new plants can be divided from the parent plant.

4. Parsley is a biennial plant, which means that it goes to seed its second season. If you pot up an existing plant, use a deep container to avoid injuring the tap root. New plants can be started from seed.

5. Sage is a perennial and can be grown from a softwood cutting or by division. If you want a more decorative plant than ordinary garden sage, try a tri-colored or golden one. Their flavor is not as pronounced but they grow better indoors.

6. Rosemary is a tender perennial where I live so I have been growing it in a pot outdoors so I can bring it in when the weather cools down. If you have an established plant outside you can take cuttings. Rosemary can be fussy. It will need bright light, a cool location, lots of air circulation, and frequent misting but the extra pampering is worth the effort, especially if it rewards you with its delicate blue blossoms.

7. Cilantro is best started from seed but it grows fast. Use it before it flowers for the best flavor. Keep starting new plants from seed as needed.

Cut back any plants that you are digging up to bring indoors. They will suffer a bit of shock and may take a while to adjust and start to regrow. Be sure to use a large enough pot to accommodate the root ball and remove as much of the old soil as possible to get rid of any insects or their eggs. Isolate them from your other houseplants for a few weeks and spray them every 3-7 days with a soapy water solution to kill off any hitchhiking pests. To encourage new growth, begin fertilizing the plants once you move them to your sunny windowsill.

BONUS RECIPE

Summer Squash Bake

Ingredients:

3 pounds yellow squash or zucchini, sliced

½ cup chopped onion

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and divided

1 cup bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, boil or steam the squash for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain, then return the squash to the pan and mash it.

Add the onion, eggs, sugar, salt, pepper, and half of the melted butter to the squash. Stir to incorporate.

Spoon the mixture into a 2-quart casserole.

In a small bowl, drizzle the remaining butter on the bread crumbs and toss to coat.

Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the squash and bake for 45 minutes.

Lisa Lewey-Shields is sponsored by our friends at Harvest Market.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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