Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Basil & Cilantro - my favorite garden fresh herbs!

I just love when my garden is overflowing with fresh produce.  Last week I froze sweet corn with a couple girlfriends.  Something we do every year together - more hands make less work, besides it gives us a chance to catch up on each other's busy lives while doing something productive.  I think we put up about 100 quart bags stuffed to the brim.  Last night my son and I made 10 pints of salsa and I have been making zucchini muffins and bread like crazy, sticking some in the freezer to enjoy when the garden is no longer thriving.

Some of my favorite garden herbs are basil and cilantro. Basil Pesto and Cilantro Rice (like Chipolte) are two of my favorite recipes using these fresh herbs.  Perhaps you have an over abundance of basil or cilantro in your garden this year.  Give one of these recipes a try -  I am sure you will love them.

Basil Pesto
It took me a while to figure out if I liked pesto, but once I decided I liked it - I loved it.
In our house we use Pesto on panini sandwiches, in pasta salad and tossed with a little cream to make a sauce for pasta.

I love, love, love fresh basil.  It smells and tastes heavenly. Besides, one ounces of basil will give you half your daily dose of vitamin A.

Gather your supplies: grated Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, water and of course basil leaves.

Basil Pesto
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
3 TBSP cold water
1 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in food processor.

Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Stopping to scrap down sides as needed. Once smooth, I fill a couple containers with the pesto.  Keeping one in the frig and freezing the extra. It's that easy.

Cilantro Rice - just like Chipolte

My family loves rice with fresh cilantro and lime.  This recipe is a copy cat of the rice at Chipolte restaurants.

Cilantro Rice
1 tsp canola oil
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
2/3 cup white basmati rice
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 TBSP lime juice

(The rice in this picture has browned pieces because I toasted them in the oil and lime juice a little too long.
but it still tasted yummy)
In 2 quart saucepan, heat oil over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add rice and lime juice.  Stir for 1 minute.  Add water and salt, bringing to a full rolling boil.  At boiling, cover, turn down to simmer over low heat until rice is tender and water absorbed (about 25 minutes)

While the rice is cooking, rinse and chop the cilantro.

1/3 cup is a good amount.  My daughter Hannah loves cilantro so if she is making the rice she will add 1/2 -1 cup of cilantro. 

Once the rice is tender gently stir in the chopped cilantro.

This Cilantro rice is the perfect addition to any summertime meal.

Basil Bruschetta
Another great dish to make with garden fresh basil is Bruschetta. It is fairly easy.  You can use any kind of bread. If I am at the grocery store and know in advance I plan to make Bruschetta I will buy the little slices of French bread they have in our deli section.  Today however, I had a loaf of sourdough bread at home so that is what I used.  Since the bread slices were large I cut them in half to make a nice size for the Bruschetta.  

To begin with brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet on 350 until toasted.

While the bread was toasting cut up garden fresh tomatoes and basil, add a tablespoon of garlic (more or less depending on how much Bruschetta you are making) and tossed together.

When the bread is done toasting pile the tomato basil mixture on the bread and sprinkle with mozzarella.  Bake on 350 until cheese is melted - about 10 minutes.

It's that simple!  -  Delicious!

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