Commentator Jack Staub rhapsodizes about his favorite herb, basil, which is abundant this time of year. He also offers hints about what to do with all of it, including a recipe for handy and easy-to-use pesto cubes.
These cubes will maintain a zingy, summery bite even after months in the freezer. To use, just thaw one or two. For real Italian pesto, reprocess with pine nuts and fresh Parmesan cheese.
You can also use them for marinating meats, tossing with vegetables and a squeeze of lemon, starting salad dressings, and adding fresh, green body to soups and stews. And, best of all, they'll keep that yearned-for taste of summer lingering on your tongue all winter long.
Commentator Jack Staub lives and gardens in Bucks County, Pa. He's also the author of 75 Exciting Vegetables for Your Garden.
Bunch of fresh, rinsed and dried basil leaves
3 or 4 fat garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
Pack the basil leaves into a food processor, add about an inch of good olive oil, the garlic, a palm-full of salt, and some generous grindings of fresh pepper.
Process into a thick, green emulsion, adding more oil if necessary.
Pour into plastic ice cube trays and freeze.
When the cubes are frozen, pop them out and store them in freezer bags.
Jack Staub's Orange Basil Shrimp
Makes 4 servings
2 pesto cubes
Zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoon fresh, chopped ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
24 medium to large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste
Thaw the pesto cubes and whisk with everything except the shrimp. Taste for additional salt and pepper.
Marinate the shrimp in marinade for at least an hour (two is better). Note: I use a container with a lid so that I can shake it occasionally to make sure every shrimp is coated.
Stir-fry or broil the shrimp until just pink: Do not overcook. Serve over fragrant rice with a salad and a dry white wine.