Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Basil!

We belong to an awesome CSA here in San Marcos. The farm is Be Wise Ranch, Inc and they're based in Escondido. I love belonging to a CSA because we get a butt-load of wonderfully organic fruits and veggies every week for less than what we'd pay in the grocery store (butt-load is a farming term, by the way). Sure, I could go to the store and pick out my own veggies but this is much more convenient for me. And it forces us to eat stuff we wouldn't normally eat, as well as try things we wouldn't usually try. It's been wonderful and I feel good knowing I'm supporting a local business and my local environment. And I get HUGE bundles of basil! Have you ever seen a bunch of basil so enormous? It's been heavenly because I'm forced to put basil on everything because I don't want it to go bad. And I really love basil.

Aside from the obviously lovely taste basil adds, it actually has quite a number of important health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help protect you (and your immune system) from pesky bacterial infections. Basil also boosts cardiovascular health because it's high in the anti-oxidant beta-carotene, as well as magnesium, vitamin K, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids and more. It definitely provides a lot of bang for your buck. Did I mention how much I love basil? Really, what's not to love?

Here are a few basil recipes to get your love affair with basil started off!

Basil Pesto (vegan)

Ingredients
2 cups tightly packed fresh basil
1/2 cup pine nuts
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1tbs lemon juice
2-3 tbs nutritional yeast


Place everything in a food processor or high speed blender. Typically it's easier to blend in a blender when all the liquids are placed in the blender first, then the other ingredients. When I made my most recent batch, I actually just threw everything in a high cup and used my immersion blender. Whatever works best for you. Blend until everything is combined and the consistency is to your liking. Some like a course, chunky pesto (this is most preferred) but others like it a little smoother. Experiment to find what you like the best.


Basil Hummus

Ingredients 
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (about 1 15-oz can)
1 cup water reserved from cooking beans (see below)
1-2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil



If you've cooked your beans, reserve about a cup of the cooking liquid. If you're using canned, drain the beans and rinse them and use 1 cup of water with the recipe. Place everything in a food processor or high-speed blender. If you're using a blender, add the water first, then all the other ingredients. Mix until everything is combined and smooth. Add more water tablespoon by tablespoon until you get the consistency you like. This is to avoid too much oil, as most store-bought hummus have too much. Serve with whatever you'd like to dip!


Basil Tea

Ingredients
1 cup water
3 tbs fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice (or more, per your taste)

Chop the basil leaves finely. To brew the tea, you'll want an infuser basket or other tea cup that allows you to brew loose-leaf tea. I have a ton of different cups/basket/mesh thingys that I use to brew loose-leaf tea, but the one pictured here is from Uncommon Goods and does a good job. And since your tea is still in the infuser section, you get to smell its yummy aroma as you sip your tea :) Once you've chopped the basil, add it to your infuser. Poor your boiling water over the leaves and let it steep for about 5-10 minutes. Add your lemon juice and enjoy!


By the way, I can't chop my basil without my beautiful mezzaluna. I highly recommend getting one for all of your herb chopping needs. It's easy on the hands and on the eyes :)

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