Friday, August 10, 2007

reasons to buy fresh basil

more and more recipes, I'm noticing, call for fresh basil (or other herbs) instead of the old dried standbys, but buying fresh is expensive and goes bad just as fast as spinach and other bagged salads. Plus, do you really want to make that many Italian dishes in a week to use up the basil before it goes bad? (well, I do, but most people probably wouldn't). so until I have room in my home for a cute little herb garden, I usually just buy the $4 box of fresh basil and end up throwing most of it out. That was the case when I made Giada DeLaurintiis' Simple Bolognese sauce this weekend which calls for eight fresh basil leaves. It is sooooo good and a nice change from the regular spaghetti sauce that it seems like we eat every week. The Bolognese takes a little more effort, but makes a huge batch, so I like to freeze half for later. The sauce is versatile too; usually we just eat it over pasta (bowties or spirals are the best because the pieces of meat the veggies get caught in the nooks), but last night I baked a potato and dumped a whole bunch of sauce over it and that was excellent too. (The recipe is also included in Giada's Everyday Italian cookbook.)
Anyway, I still had a lot of basil left over but didn't really think much of it until the other day while farting around on, I found this delicious-sounding recipe for a mayoless tuna salad sandwich. It is called "Tuscan" which I guess is Italian, but it doesn't taste Italian to me (at least not in the lasagna, meatball, Parmesan chicken category or Italian food). I made it as instructed, except without olives, because I couldn't find them at the grocery store (what section are they in? I looked under canned veggies and by the pickles and other condiments. anyway, I didn't miss them in the sandwich so maybe it's okay!). Also, I didn't put any greenery (watercress, spinach, arugula, etc) because of the aforementioned quickness in which it goes bad, so I never buy it unless I know I'm going to eat it all at once. but it is so nice to have lunch almost ready when I am scrambling to get out the door in the morning. yesterday I put one layer of bean spread, then a layer of tuna, but it seemed like the second piece of bread was pulling away too much, so today I put bean spread on both pieces of bread with tuna in the middle and it was much better.
So, go get yourself some fresh basil and make these two delicious meals!! One more thing: unless you REALLY like basil and add extra to both dishes, you'll have some leftover so I suggest a caprese salad with marinated mozzarella and fresh sliced tomatoes to go with the extra basil ... but that might be too much Italian food for you :)
okay, two more things: both recipes also call for fresh parsley, but since parsley doesn't really have a flavor, I never buy it fresh, but use the dried stuff that is always in my cupboard. Also, it is good for adding to garlic mashed potatoes, so they look fancier, or to any dish I want to freak Wes out with and make him think there are weird spices in it.

A Note on the Knitting too: still making progress on Mom's shawl!! Worked on it for a long time last night since my dinner (leftover bolognese sauce and baked potato, remember?) was practically cooked for me by the time I got home. New deadline for myself is next weekend when I am planning to head down to HB again. Tonight should be another good night to get many more inches in! Wes will be at work and I just got a bunch of new movies in the mail!

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