Friday, July 13, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging: Basic Basil

I'm loving this leap into the world of blogging events! Though I can't promise to take part in all of them all the time (I mean, I have to eat too, or what would I talk about?) I hope to be able to do as many as I can. This one is Weekend Herb Blogging, started by Kalyn's Kitchen, and hosted this weekend by Food Blogga. Full details can be found here, as well as a list of hosts for upcoming editions.

So... Basil. One of the quintessential Italian herbs. Sometimes called the "spaghetti herb", this plant has been a favourite of kitchen gardeners for decades. The stems, leaves and even flowers can be used in cooking but must be added at the last few moments for optimum flavour (as with any fresh herb). Of course, you don't have to cook basil! Pestos and salad mixes are both awesome uses for the plant and great if you want the peppery flavour but don't want to heat up your kitchen. If you want, you can even use the leaves and flowers as garnishes on chicken and fish dishes, and a pot of basil looks beautiful sitting on your kitchen counter (as a side note, do not store fresh cut basil in your fridge! The flavour will soon dissipate and you run the risk of it picking up unsavoury aromas from the other things in your fridge. Put cut stems in a glass of water out of direct sunlight and use in a few days).

Basil is also a wonderful anti-inflammitory, according to some sources. Apparently a basil leaf put on an ulcer will reduce swelling and pain, as will rinsing out the mouth with basil tea. Though neither of those sound particularly appealing, I guess you have to use what you can get if you are in that dire a situation!

I, for one, don't like pesto (which I know is a case for culinary exile) but not because of the basil. I don't like pine nuts, and I can't tolerate the massive amount of oil most recipes call for. So instead I offer up a different use for the fresh herb... Bread!

Unfortunately, the good ol' camera bit the bucket just as I was taking the photo of the finished product so alas, no picture along with this recipe. I can assure you though that it smells divine!!

Sundried-Tomato and Olive Basil Bread
Serves 10
10-12 dry-packed sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup bulgur, uncooked
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Good handful fresh chives, basil and rosemary
2 tbsp chunked good-quality asiago cheese (not pre-grated!)
2 tbsp apple butter
1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
3/4 cup pitted black olives, chopped fine

  1. Snip the tomatoes into small pieces with a pair of kitchen shears.
  2. Combine the boiling water and wine, add tomatoes and soak 30 minutes. Drain.
  3. Mix the flour, bulgur, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Cut the apple butter into the flour mixture until it gets to a coarse meal.
  5. Combine all the herbs and cheese in a food processor and chop very finely.
  6. Add herbs and cheese to flour and mix well.
  7. Seperately, mix the sour cream, milk and egg until well beaten.
  8. Mix milk mixture into the dry ingredients until very well combined.
  9. Add in the olives and soaked, drained tomatoes.
  10. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth, adding flour if necessary (about 10 minutes).
  11. Shape dough into an oblong loaf, place on a cornmeal-dusted cookie sheet.
  12. Slash the top of the bread.
  13. Bake 40 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 159.7
Total Fat: 5.1 g
Cholesterol: 28.6 mg
Sodium: 182.1 mg
Total Carbs: 23.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.5 g
Protein: 5.1 g

This bread is wonderful eaten warm straight out of the oven or served with herbed olive oil and a bowl of good soup.

5 comments :

Susan said...

Sorry about the camera, but if it makes you feel any better, I don't need a picture to convince me to make this savory bread. Sun-dried tomatoes, olives, basil, and asiago--are you kidding?--that's sensational! I just bought a pot of basil, which is on my deck, beckoning to be used in this recipe. Thanks for the delicious WHB submission!

Marye said...

mmm..this looks really good. really really good!

Simona said...

The recipe looks yummy! On terms of pesto, have you tried making it with walnuts instead of pine nuts?

Kalyn said...

It sounds really tasty. I think these flavors are just meant to be together.

Margarita Valli said...

I am always searching for savory bread recipes. This looks like it would fit the bill excellently!!!!
P.S. I lived in Oshawa for 8 years...my daughter was born there.