Friday, August 03, 2007

Basil

Basil is one of my favorite herbs, with its fresh, bright flavor that works in so many dishes. Luckily it's an herb that's pretty easy to grow in the garden. (Unlike one of my other favorites, cilantro, which will have absolutely no part of our hot Carolina summers.) Though my plants aren't doing quite as well this summer as in the past, I have more than enough to add to my fresh tomato and mozzarella salads. If you have an abundance of basil, making pesto is always a great option, since it's delicious and freezes well. But if you're looking for a different way to use up some fresh basil, here's my favorite homemade salad-dressing recipe, from What's Cooking America by Linda Stradley and Andra Cook:

Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette Dressing
1 medium lemon
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c. rice vinegar
2 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves
3 T. honey
1/4 t. salt
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Remove the zest from the lemon. Squeeze lemon, reserving juice. In a blender or food processor, whirl lemon zest and garlic until minced. Add rice vinegar, basil, honey and salt; whirl until basil is coarsely chopped.

With motor on, slowly drizzle lemon juice and olive oil into basil mixture. Whirl until vinaigrette has thickened slightly and basil is finely chopped.

Yield: 1 cup.

Note: This dressing is fairly tart, so you can add more honey if you want it slightly sweeter.

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