In addition to the wonderful list of suggestions that Mary shared earlier this week, I wanted to share a couple simple recipes using Basil.
In one of my favorite Catholic cookbooks, A Continual Feast, the author tells us that "This holy day is one of strict fasting among the Eastern Orthodox. In Greece, the priest distributes sprigs of sweet basil to his congregation, because tradition says that basil grew all over the hillside where Helena discovered the cross. " The author, Evelyn Vitz, goes on to suggest the following recipe for Pesto (a wonderful sauce for pasta made with fresh basil) since, "With this dish you can keep the spirit of the day as one of abstinence from meat and still serve something delicious and symbolic."
I just made the recipe in preparation for tomorrow, and not only is it quick and easy, it is DELICIOUS!!
2 cups chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tespoons finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1-1 1/2 cups olive oil (I found one cup to be plenty)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (I left the cheese out of a portion of ours, since a few of us have dairy intolerances. It still turned out very yummy!)
Combine the basil, salt, pepper, garlic, pine nuts, and 1 cup of oil in the blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth; stop the blender every few seconds to stir the mixture slightly, and to press the leaves down. (If you happen to have a Vita-Mix, this won't be necessary and use the lowest speed.)
The mixture when pureed should be slightly runny; if it is still too thick, add more olive oil. Pour the sauce into a bowl, and stir in the grated cheese.
Serve hot on pasta.