Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Frugal Diva: Death by Basil Edition

For me, at least, a little basil goes a long way. A very long way. So far in fact that when I need to use it, what I really want is about 4 or 5 leaves. Unfortunately, my supermarket only sells the stuff in great heaping bushels. These bunches of basil are so large as to be frightening. Why they're nearly size of my hair on a 90 degree day. Scary.

Invariably, I end up tossing it after too much time has gone by and those once vivid leaves have gone ugly and brown.

Now, I know what you're thinking and you're thinking pesto, right? Well, um, here's the thing: I don't love it and neither does the husband. Pesto is fine, sometimes even delicious, but, frankly, after a bite or two it bores me. I much prefer pesto as a condiment; a delicate dollop atop a lovely soup or in place of mustard on a sandwich ... that kind of thing. I don't typically enjoy it as the center piece of a dish.

So, what to do with that bushel of basil in my fridge? I made a dip out of it ... a dip that tastes like ... pesto!

Fast and Fresh Basil Dip:
  • 1 cup of packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and rough chopped
  • 8 oz. of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. of minced fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (as in the real stuff, not packaged or processed)
  • pinch of salt
  • generous grinding of fresh black pepper
  • 2 to 3 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • pinch of hot Hungarian paprika, optional
Place the basil into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until chopped. Add the garlic and process again, until the garlic is minced and the basil finely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients, pulse and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt, pepper and or lemon juice if desired. Serve immediately or chill, covered in the fridge until needed.

This dip is the perfect match for a lovely platter of crudites or some multi-grain crisps or pita chips. It comes together in a flash and the taste is fresh and lovely ... even if it does resemble pesto. Next time I will likely add a handful of fresh parsley, arugula or even some spinach - any of which would be a nice addition indeed.

What's your favorite way to use left-over basil? Curious Diva wants to know.

Bon appetite!


Heavenly Housewife said...

I love basil, but like you i usually only use a few leaves at a time. I recommend those little basil plants in the supermarket. Put them in the windowsill and just pluck a few leaves off when u need them. It also works out super cheap!

Lola said...

Wash and dry unused basil, then put in a zip lock bag. Then the next time you need basil (like for pasta sauce) just break off what you need and toss the frozen bits in. I do the same with cilantro.

The Duo Dishes said...

Good, good, good idea. Very rarely do you see basil used in unconventional ways. And we're guilty of not using it unconventionally! It is good to roll up with sliced chicken or turkey and cheese to make little appetizers.

Anonymous said...

I loathe basil. That is all.


pixelgal said...

I learn something new about my Diva every day. Who knew you hated pesto???/ 1/4 of your genes are sad but the Irish half is probably not. I love pesto in any form even made with parsley. And basil, fresh mozz and real tomatoes with evoo and even a little vinegar will be "awesome" on a roll in a few weeks when tomatoes ripen. If you can find a good hard roll that is.

Debinhawaii said...

Love the dip--huge basil fan. I confess I love pesto and do a lot of it with walnuts and whole grain bread in it to make it healthy and then freeze it.

Also I like basil in lemonade and I just made some cherry-basil sorbet.

Veriance said...

definitely a basil fan, I use it with olive oil, pine nuts, spinach and garlic in the food processor to make PESTO!

Christie's Corner said...

My basil isn't doing well this year. I'd be happy if I could pluck 4 or 5 leaves, but it's sulking.

Now that the weather has warmed up, maybe my basil patch will perk up. This dip looks like a great way to use up the bounty (she says with fingers crossed).

The Diva on a Diet said...

HH - I have thought about the little windowsill plants and should def. try that!

Lola - what a great tip! Thank you!

Duo - I agree, it is good in roll ups and the like. I do enjoy the fresh leaves like that.

Cindy Lou - you made me LOL! :)

pixelgal - I do like some pesto, but not in great quantities. It gets kind of boring. I did like the pesto that Pete made for you that time. His was especially good.

DebinHawaii - I'm with you on the basil in desserts and sorbets. Love that!

Veri - the spinach is a good idea! I think I would enjoy it more with a combination of spinach and basil. Thank you!

Charmian - I do so hope you will have a bountiful crop! This summer was slow in getting off to a start and I think many gardens are suffering. Here's hoping your little basils will turn around!

Tangled Noodle said...

I would wear basil if I didn't find it more valuable as foodstuff! I have 2 very robust basil plants in my herb garden so I'm taking full advantage of by putting it in virtually everything, including sorbet! I love this dip and I'd love to put a dollop of it on oven-roasted potatoes or maybe grilled veggies. Mmmmm . . .

Donna-FFW said...

Basil dip sounds so unique and so tasty. I love the idea.

stephchows said...

Sounds like you should just buy a little basil plant and keep it in your window :) Great dip idea though!

Deb said...

Basil freezes beautifully or you could also make basil oil by balnching and adding to olive oil - we did this in Italy and it was fabulous!