Whenever I buy a bunch of fresh basil I have a little laugh at my own expense.
That’s because every summer I grow it in my herb garden. It is a favourite, so as the years have progressed, I add more plants. But no matter how much I try to grow, it’s never enough. By mid August we have plucked so many leaves that we are left with empty stalks in pots.
But a single purchased bunch of it at the vegetable market, costing about $3, yields as much basil as do those plants that I spend time and effort tending all summer long.
There is so much of the herb in one bought shot that, unless we make pesto or wash and freeze it, we never use it all up before it becomes wilted and soggy, in a bag in the in the fridge. This happens no matter how many dampened paper towels I have wrapped around the stems to keep it fresh.
I have read that the best storage idea for basil is in some water in your fridge, but forget that noise. That would be shoved around and knocked over in under a day. There is just no room in a refrigerator for a big bunch of basil.
But now I have figured out a solution that I can’t believe never dawned on me before. After buying some last Monday and declining a bag and carrying it home like a bouquet of flowers so it didn’t get crushed, I put it in a container of water, making sure there were no leaves below water, and just left it out at room temperature in a shady corner of the kitchen.
Every day I have freshened up the water, and here we are five days in and it is still perfect and ready to have as many leaves as I need clipped off. It looks like it will keep well for a long time yet.
Feel like a leaf or two of basil in your tomato soup? I’ve got that. A bit of pasta salad with fresh basil? No problem. In fact I just got back to my computer to finish this post after having taken a break to eat some lunch of homemade ravioli topped with fresh basil. There is basil basil everywhere around here.
[Follow up: The basil stayed fresh and crisp for three solid weeks and could have kept on going, but we had used it all up by then.]
Something to note is that the basil I got was sold with the roots still intact. At the market they had stored all their basil upright in a tub with an inch or so of water in the bottom. I am not sure if this would work for basil that comes without the roots, but I will be trying it out.
So we have had a menu punctuated with the lovely taste of fresh basil all week. Here is how I used some in a potato dish I made last night, to go along with some fish fillets and corn.
This recipe uses leftover cooked potatoes (ours were baked) and is a good way to reheat them as a side dish. Oh, and the whole thing took under 5 minutes to prepare.
Food Friday : Potatoes with Fresh Basil and Cottage Cheese
- 3 – 4 leftover potatoes, cooked and cooled, cut into cubes.
- About 1/2 cup cottage cheese
- Around 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 5 – 6 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin julienne strips, plus some full leaves for garnish
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat up a large frying pan that has a tightly fitting lid. Add olive oil then onions and garlic, and saute for about 1 minute until cooked. Add salt and pepper and water and stir. Add potatoes and stir. Cover tightly and allow the water to steam-heat the potatoes for about 1 minute. Stir in basil and cottage cheese. Serve hot or warm.
Cheese and Potatoes… yumm
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Thanks for dropping by. Here’s wishing you a very good Friday.