Next to parsley, basil is probably one of the most used herbs. It is such a versatile herb. It can complement a savory dishes as well as sweet dishes. You can garnish a pasta or curry dish with basil to add an herby and fresh flavor or you can add chopped basil to peach ice cream and it goes just as well!
For my first “Flavor of the Month” post, I am going to feature basil in one of my brother Cole’s famous dishes; BRUSCHETTA which is pronounced, “bru·schet·ta”. In its simplest form, it is bread that is toasted or grilled, then rubbed down with slices of raw garlic, drizzled with olive oil and finished with a little bit of sea salt and fresh pepper. Cole however, dices up fresh tomatoes, basil, and drizzles in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), and seasons with salt and pepper and tops the bread with the tomatoes. It is divine!
Since this recipe only calls for a handful of ingredients, and it is raw, it is vital to use good quality produce. As always, if you have a garden, or access to a reliable farmers market, always use those resources. You can’t go wrong. You are buying local, and you know where your food is coming from.
If you have to shop at the supermarket, here’s a few tips.
Instead of buying those tasteless Roma tomatoes that have an pink fleshy color, use cherry tomatoes instead. They are smaller and can pack more flavor. I found some tomatoes at Sams called Flavor Bombs, and they are delicious! They taste just like a garden tomato.The cherry tomatoes require a little more knife work, but its worth it.
When buying basil, or any produce for that matter, if you can’t taste it…..smell it! Basil especially…it is such a fragrant herb. Also check to make sure the basil leaves are crisp, bright green, and contain a lot of leaves. Most of the time, the manufacturers hide the giant stems behind the leaves and you actually get more stems than leaves.
Download the Recipe Here!
- For more flavor, add 1/2 tbsp of good quality balsamic vinegar. Just cut back on the oil by whatever amount vinegar you add.
- Instead of tomatoes and basil, top the bruschetta with sauteed mushrooms and goat cheese
- Do a take on a caprese salad and add fresh mozzarella cheese to my recipe and drizzle reduced balsamic vinegar over the top.
- Mix fresh ricotta with lemon zest, and spread onto toasts (do not rub with garlic or drizzle with oil). Add a few basil leaves, and drizzle with honey.