When the Garden Gives You Basil…

August 6, 2009  •  Vegetables

While I was away in CA moving my mother in law, my basil crop started going crazy. So last night I did what any self-respecting kitchen gardener does – I created a meal to utilize the abundance.
If you let basil (or other herbs) grow too long without clipping them for use, they will begin to flower, bolt tall, and the leaves will lose much of their flavor. So for the best tasting herbs – and to keep your crop going all summer – harvest by clipping the top leaves frequently.

Olathe sweet corn was in the store this week, so I took advantage of that to make my very favorite food and herb pairing – corn with basil. I simply steamed the corn on the cob until it was ready, then cut the kernels off and mixed them with some butter and chopped basil. Delicious!

I’m trying to eat more fish this summer (or what’s left of this summer) so I grabbed some halibut from Whole Foods and use the basil to make a citrus pesto. I like a citrus pesto because it’s lighter than traditional pesto and the citrus juice keeps the basil bright. I made it for the fish without the pine nuts and cheese, but you can go either way. And this pesto is great on many fish – salmon, tuna, swordfish – as well as grilled chicken.

Citrus Pesto

Serves 12
2 cups basil leaves, tightly packed
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
salt and pepper
In a blender or food processor, combine the basil leaves, orange and lemon zest, garlic and pine nuts. Process until finely chopped. Add the juice of the orange the lemon and process until smooth. With blender or food processor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream until smooth, then add Parmigiano cheese and pulse about 5 times to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste.

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