Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme - they're all wonderful, but in the summertime, it's basil! Basil is, or at least I think it should be, the official herb of summer. Basil's heady aromatic scent often permeates your herb garden and your grocery bag. Basil is an easy plant to grow, its only major requirements being full sun and consistent water. Its delicious flavor has made it the most useful herb in my summer kitchen for years. Today's I want to share with you a few ideas on how you can enjoy this delicious herb and still keep it raw!
Simplicity - just basil, garlic, cheesy nutritional yeast and olive oil. I like to use omega-3-laden walnuts in the mix for their crunch and delicate flavor, but pine nuts, almonds, pecans or even pistachios may be substituted beautifully for the walnuts.
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, (2-3 bunches)
1/4 cup walnut pieces
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1 large clove garlic, quartered
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place basil, walnuts, nutritional yeast, oil, water, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor; pulse a few times, then process until fairly smooth, or to the desired consistency, scraping down the sides occasionally.
Avocado & Herb Salad with Fresh Basil Vinaigrette
Nothing is more simplistic and delicious than a salad that is full of fresh garden herbs. This salad is super easy but aromatic, nutritious and delicious.
For the Salad:
2 - 4 cups Mixed Field Greens
handful of torn basil leaves & other assorted herbs of your choice
1 small avocado, sliced
1 ripe tomato, sliced
1/4 cup sunflower or hemp seeds
Arrange the field greens, herbs, tomato, avocado then seeds on chilled salad plates. Top with fresh basil vinaigrette.
For the Dressing:
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar (or flavor of your choice)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
3/4 cup cold pressed olive oil
Process the first six ingredients in the blender until smooth. With the blender running, gradually add in the oil in a slow steady stream to emulsify. Drizzle this over the salad to serve.
Fresh Basil Marinara
There are two summer ingredients that were made for one another and that's fresh, ripe homegrown tomatoes and basil. The following red sauce is perfect on zucchini pasta, in a raw lasagna, on a dehydrated pizza crust or as a dip for fresh cut veggies.
3 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, soaked to soften
1/4 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 - 3 soft dates, pitted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 + tablespoon cold pressed olive oil
Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. This will keep well in an airtight container for 5 days in the refrigerator.
The Strawberry Basil Martini
This is not Dad's pre-dinner cocktail. Basil, muddled strawberries, a touch of agave, and chilled sparkling water or kombucha (if you're lucky enough to have some) combine to provide a fresh twist on everyday cocktails.
3-4 large basil leaves
3 large medium-sized strawberries, sliced
1 slice fresh lemon
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar (or to taste)
2 ounces sparkling mineral or spring water
Combine basil, fruit, and agave in tall glass. Muddle lightly to bruise fruit and release essential herbal oils. Add ice cubes and shake to mix. Pour sparkling water over the mixture and stir, straining and serving in a chilled martini glass with a slice of lemon or lime and a sprig of fresh basil.