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Chat Leftovers: Basil Without Garlic

Basil recipes that do not include garlic; coming up. (Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)

Another Wednesday has rolled around, and with it the Food section's weekly Free Range chat. Join us at 1, or if you can't make it then, post a question early and we'll get to it.

Recipe Included

Is summer stirring more of you to cook? Or maybe all the "Julie & Julia" hype has struck a chord? Whatever, we had a ton of questions last week, and as usual we couldn't answer them all. Here's one we didn't get to:

Mt. Pleasant, D.C.: I’m pregnant, and I’ve developed a powerful garlic aversion. Not knowing that was coming, I very successfully planted basil thinking I would make (and freeze) pesto. Now I can’t stand to be in the kitchen with garlic in a blender. I’ve been making Caprese salad, but that just doesn’t use that much basil. Any ideas for simple non-garlic recipes that would use my basil?

Mt. Pleasant, here’s the sad (for you) truth: Garlic and basil are such natural companions that in almost every savory recipe with any amount of basil, you’re pretty sure to find a clove of garlic or two. You can just omit the garlic, of course, but that also removes a layer of flavor.

So let’s sidestep that reality by looking at desserts. These days it's not unusual to see herbs show up in sweet foods. Lavender is maybe the most common, but basil has plenty of dessert uses, too.

Here's one that will use up a cup of your crop. I make a basil-lime syrup from a recipe I got from a friend, who found it online:

* Combine 3/4 cup sugar, the zest of 1 lime (use a vegetable peeler to remove it in strips), 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
* Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
* Remove from the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes.
* Discard the zest and transfer the syrup to a blender.
* Add 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves and blend for 20 seconds.
* Pour through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth into a nonreactive bowl, then cool.

You can probably find plenty of uses for the syrup. I drizzle it over sliced fruit, particularly melon (cantaloupe and honeydew are best), peaches, mangoes, sometimes plums.

And here's one that will use up three cups! Basil ice cream is delicious and easy to make. (And we hear it tastes good with pickles.) Because you're pregnant, make doubly sure to use pasteurized eggs to avoid the risk, even though small, of encountering Salmonella bacteria. The following recipe is from the Sept. 11, 2002, issue of The Post.

AWCE fans, what non-garlic ways do you like to use basil?

-- Jane Touzalin

Basil Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart (8 servings)

Two important tips: Never let the custard base mixture come to a boil; add the hot half-and-half to the beaten egg mixture slowly, or your eggs will scramble.

1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 large egg yolks (from pasteurized eggs)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 large bunch basil, stems removed (about 3 cups loosely packed leaves)
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Combine the sugar, salt and egg yolks in the large bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium speed until the mixture is thickened and pale yellow.

Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and heat over medium or medium-low heat.

Place the half-and-half in a bowl that fits over the top of the saucepan but does not touch the water within. Let the half-and-half heat through but do allow it to come to a boil.

Slowly add a small ladleful of the warm half-and-half to the yolk mixture, whisking the yolk mixture constantly. (This gradually tempers the egg yolks without scrambling them.) Scrape this mixture into the bowl containing the remaining the half-and-half; cook for about 15 minutes (a la double boiler), stirring constantly to form a custard base. Remove from the heat; add the basil and let steep for 30 minutes.

Strain the custard base to remove the herbs and any lumps. Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, until chilled through.

Stir the chilled custard base to recombine, then transfer to an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions. Freeze for the ice cream for at least
2 hours before serving.

Per serving: 322 calories, 5 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 21 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 267 mg cholesterol, 184 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 25 g sugar

By Jane Touzalin  |  August 12, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Recipes  | Tags: Free Range, Jane Touzalin, basil  
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I would go ahead and make the pesto without the garlic or cheese, freeze, then when you are no longer garlic-adverse, pull out of the freezer and add in the garlic and cheese before using.
I'll be doing that with my basil crop this year for the same reason.

Posted by: library2 | August 12, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Why not make your partner prepare pesto and freeze it for later in an ice cube tray, then transfer to a Ziplock bag?

Benefits include:
1. Using up basil
2. Preparing tasty food for when you won't be physically able to prepare food - not sleeping takes a lot out of you (and your partner!)
3. Getting your partner involved in caring for you and the baby care.
4. Practice for making baby food purees - you know, the little one starts eating purees at about 4-6 months old, not so far away!

And of course, you won't have to be near the garlic.

Also, I have chopped basil and frozen it in water in ice cube trays and added it into dishes. You could use milk if you like creamier dishes.

Posted by: New2SongLists | August 12, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

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