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So many herbs, so little time
September 23, 2007 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Four parsley plants. Two creeping oregano. Two creeping thyme. Three basil. Two rosemarys. Thank god the sage died. Pesto. Pesto. Pesto. Pesto. Pesto. (previously)
posted by nax (25 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
You just had to pepper us with this, you old salt.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:27 AM on September 23, 2007


I love pesto. This year, I had a bumper crop of basil and made tons of it to freeze. If you freeze it in an ice tray, it's very convenient to just pull out a cube or two when needed for a meal.

This weekend, I did some experimenting in the kitchen with some gorgonzola/walnut ravioli. I made a pesto out a cup of walnuts, about 5 sun dried tomatoes (not in oil), two cloves of garlic, about half a cup of shredded parmaggiano reggiano, a fistful of purple basil, and some olive oil and salt. It was amazing. I highly suggest it.

Tonight, I'm mixing the leftover pesto with some bechamel and making white pizza with it.
posted by kaseijin at 8:32 AM on September 23, 2007


Don't get me started Smart Dalek. Peppers, huh?
posted by nax at 8:40 AM on September 23, 2007


Tonight, I'm mixing the leftover pesto with some bechamel and making white pizza with it.

Where are you? Can I come over for dinner?
posted by jonson at 9:05 AM on September 23, 2007


Ah pesto! what a delicious thought! mmmm. Fun post nax.

The basil in India is known as tulsi (pronounced tool-see), called Holy Basil, associated with revering Vishnu and cultivated in his rememberance. One night I picked a tulsi leaf and was warned by an Indian friend that plants sleep at night, don't touch them. Seemed like a kind consideration.

One of my all time favorite Hindi love songs of yore, Main tulsi tere aangan ki, translates literally, I think, as 'My basil plant in your garden' but means something like 'I'm an outsider' (can anyone who speaks Hindi here translate the lyrics for me? pretty please with pesto on top)
posted by nickyskye at 9:08 AM on September 23, 2007


My sister has a great herb garden, and a well-used oil-stained recipe for basil pesto. I am all "recipe? Who needs a recipe? What you got growing out there?"

Especially since all the talk about counterfeit oils, I throw a handful of olives into the processor. As pesto really needs a good dose of salt, I get some of that from rinsed salt-cured capers or anchovies. For a nice, fresh taste, along with the parsley, add a little mint.

I'd like to see an assessment of the Holy Basil, Purple Basil or other variants on the basil, as to their special contributions. I could persuade my sister to mix it up a bit in the basil patch next year, but I have no experience with using any of these.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:35 AM on September 23, 2007


I did try oregano, not dried as your recipe calls for, and I laid it on more thickly than that, but I found it to be less digestible than the basil.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:38 AM on September 23, 2007


throw a handful of olives into the processor. As pesto really needs a good dose of salt, I get some of that from rinsed salt-cured capers or anchovies. For a nice, fresh taste, along with the parsley, add a little mint.

ooooh. *Drools a little.

Holy Basil, not good for cooking in my experience. Too much clove taste.
posted by nickyskye at 9:44 AM on September 23, 2007


What I love about pesto is that the basil original is pretty much unimprovable upon. Anything else you do to it makes it worse.
posted by rhymer at 10:13 AM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


There's also tarragon pesto, which is just terrific on grilled fish and chicken.
posted by vers at 10:28 AM on September 23, 2007


Taragon dijon makes the best salad dressing.
posted by furtive at 10:36 AM on September 23, 2007


I love pesto. Its got to be one of the better things to do with basil.

I can't say I care much for Alton Brown's recipe, but his suggestion to substituted toasted pistachios for toasted pine nuts works quite well.
posted by sotonohito at 11:25 AM on September 23, 2007


Don't forget chimichurri! Although the Argentinian version sometimes approximates salsa, the Peruvian version that my mom taught me is like a cilantro-based pesto: handfuls and handfuls of cilantro, olive oil, ground cumin, hot peppers, a bit of onion (for body), raw garlic and a dash of soy sauce or lea&perrins...
posted by LMGM at 12:17 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Holy Basil, not good for cooking in my experience.

Isn't Holy Basil the basil they use in Thailand for put grapao? I think that's what gives it that peculiar taste, and why it so seldom tastes right when you get it from a less than authentic Thai restaurant.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:25 PM on September 23, 2007


Holy Basil, not good for cooking in my experience.

There are two main types of basil used in Thailand: sweet which has the pronounced aniseed taste and holy which is more lemony/ clovey and also hairy. Both are fine for cooking. But in the way that Italian basil tastes good in Italian pesto, so they taste very good with the strong flavours of Thai cookery. Probably less so if put to other uses.

Personally I'd use sweet for most dishes, including green curries and stir fries and holy for jungle curry.
posted by rhymer at 12:40 PM on September 23, 2007


has the pronounced aniseed taste

Maybe a good time to remind folks not to let their basil come to flower, or the basil-y goodness will get swamped in licorice.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:46 PM on September 23, 2007


Got a ton of thai basil, it tastes like licorice from the start.

Isn't that the point of thai basil?
posted by Max Power at 12:55 PM on September 23, 2007


Other tasty bases:

Arugala (Rocket) Pesto
Watercress Pesto

Less successful, but still interesting, in its own way:
Anice Hyssop
posted by Deathalicious at 1:01 PM on September 23, 2007


My mom grows a ton of basil each year and freezes absurd amounts of proto-pesto. Her technique is to omit the parmigiano cheese, which can be added later. In this manner less space is required to store the pesto, and it's actually much better when the cheese is added when (and if) needed, rather than to freeze it and allow it to become a soggy / gooey mess. There's nothing better in my estimation than a pizza sauce consisting of 1:1 proto-pesto / tomato sauce.
posted by lordaych at 1:34 PM on September 23, 2007


lordayche: MAN I wish I'd read that BEFORE I made the 4 quarts of basil pesto I just froze for holiday gifts.

I'll try that on the rosemary, thyme, oregano and parsley versions!
posted by nax at 2:27 PM on September 23, 2007


Also fun to experiment with substitutes for pignoli. I like hazelnuts, pecans, or toasted pumpkin seeds.
posted by DenOfSizer at 2:57 PM on September 23, 2007


Where are you? Can I come over for dinner?

Sadly, half a country away in Austin, TX. The pizza was awesome, too - topped it with some fresh asparagus I had sitting in the fridge.
posted by kaseijin at 3:42 PM on September 23, 2007


I make a pesto with asparagus, baby spinach leaves, parmagiana cheese, and roasted cashews. So good.

And rosemary pesto is the best thing ever with lamb.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:18 PM on September 23, 2007


[needs to be adopted by a mefite cooking adept]
posted by CitizenD at 9:09 PM on September 23, 2007


I love Pesto, I HATE cilantro.

Anyone else out these? There's even a website for weirdo's like me: I Hate Cilantro Dot Com. Check it.
posted by NewIQ at 12:36 PM on September 24, 2007


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