Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Basil overload

So, my basil has done rather well this year. I think it’s over four feet tall at its highest point—definitely taller than Miss B and nearly chest-high on me. Now that the weather has cooled off, it has slowed down, but is still flourishing. I know my days of walking out the back door and picking a leaf (or a handful) are numbered, and that I’ll have to start thinking about doing a major harvest soon, before we get a frost.

What to do with it? I’m planning to make some more pesto, and with very limited freezer space right now I’m also looking for shelf-stable ways to preserve it—possibly drying some and canning some. I found an obscure recipe for Basil-Pepper Jelly that looks like a good way to preserve some of this and, as a bonus, use up the bags of Italian fryers my prolific gardener friend T. has bestowed upon me.

The recipe here is what I’ve used it for the most this summer, though. Nearly every time we’ve had people over or been asked to bring something to someone else’s house, I have gone outside, picked all the tips that looked about to flower, and brought them inside to make this dip.

Summer herb dip
Inspired by a recipe handed out by Joy at the Leavenworth Farmers’ Market
I think you could use this recipe as a template and switch out the basil for another leafy herb, say oregano or parsley, if you were so inclined. I use so much that, as you see, it turns the dip a very pale green. I would not recommend subbing in dried herbs; they just wouldn’t pack the same flavor punch.

1 block/8 oz/240 g plain cream cheese, softened
2 oz/60 g feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp/30 g grated pecorino romano or similar hard cheese
a good handful of basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled (fresh or roasted)
2-3 tsp/10-15 ml lemon juice
1 tsp/5 ml soy sauce
a couple dashes of hot sauce
1-3 Tbsp/15-45 ml heavy cream
salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients except cream, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process to a thick, smooth consistency. Add the cream a little bit at a time to thin out dip to your preferred consistency. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Either serve immediately*, or refrigerate for later use.

Makes about 2 cups.

* Served immediately, it will have more of a liquid (but still very thick) consistency. Refrigerating it brings it back closer to the cream-cheese block consistency. Either way, I generally serve it with pita chips, baby carrots, and whatever other raw vegetables I have handy for nibbling.


Shari said... Best Blogger Tips

Ooo, I love this! I will definitely have to substitute another herb because I finally admitted to myself not long ago that I'm just not a fan of basil, but oooo, the rest of it sounds so great!

C. said... Best Blogger Tips

Hmm ... well, I love basil, and this looks delightfully delicious to me. Yum!

celia said... Best Blogger Tips

Dip sounds lovely, Nancy! Basil is one of those plants - it either grows, or it doesn't, and when it grows, it's prolific. We had heaps in the yard last year, but nothing there now this early wet spring.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Shari - the original recipe had Thai basil, and I bet any number of other soft herbs would work as well. I'm thinking of making a chive version next....

C. - it is so delightfully delicious I can't stop making it!

Celia - prolific is the word for mine this year! And don't worry, it'll be summer before you know it.

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