It’s that time of year. From the moment you bring the first zucchini into the house, up until October, it’s non-stop freezing, blanching, drying, pureeing, canning, and cooking. But, it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, it’s completely worth all the time and effort. One of my favorite herbs that just doesn’t taste the same when it’s dried, is basil. So, I preserve as much as I can each summer. When your plants are big enough to harvest, pick your basil and wash well. Throw it into a salad spinner or place between clean tea towels to gently dry it off so it doesn’t turn black. Place the clean basil into a food processor and add olive oil. The olive oil will help the processor chop/puree the basil but it will also keep it nice and green and add flavour to the dish you’re putting it in. If you don’t want to use olive oil, you can just chop and freeze it. You can put the processed basil in a food safe freezer bag or better yet, use an ice cube tray so that it’s easy to just grab a cube when you need it. There are various sizes and shapes of ice cube trays out there. Use the bigger basil cubes for sauces or smaller ones for salads or dressings! You can add some pine nuts, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to the basil to make a pesto sauce too! The point is this – you don’t have to wait until next summer to enjoy that fresh taste of basil!!
Once tomatoes are ready for picking, a basil and tomato salad is pretty much a staple at any of our lunch and dinner tables. It’s the simplest thing and a favorite among friends who are always amazed at the flavor in such a simple dish. So with that said, you simply cut up your tomatoes, chop up some fresh basil, add olive oil and salt to taste. Finely sliced red onion, hot peppers, and cucumbers are great options to add to this salad. I know normally you wouldn’t salt your salad until just before serving, but this is one you can go ahead and salt while you’re getting other things prepared. It helps build the wonderful ‘juice’ at the bottom, a mixture of seeds, pulp, and tomato juices which is the best part of the salad. It actually becomes a free-for-all between all those left with a piece of bread in their hands to soak it up! Delicious!!!!