Monday, September 14, 2009
In the summer, I'm obsessed with basil. I normally grow several varieties, choosing a favorite for pestos, and otherwise festooning every basil-friendly creation with a handful of all of them. So when growing season fades, I start to panic. Gathering up my basil leaves by the baggie-ful, I fritter away a few hours making pesto after pesto for the freezer. Walnuts, sundried-tomatoes, pine nuts, there's no variety I won't try. Last year the plants kept on giving far beyond my meager pesto needs, so I tried making a basil salt. Delicious. For six months, I gloried in the flavors of fresh basil added to all of my salads in the form of salt. It's green and lively and fresh tasting and lasts forever in the refrigerator.
Ever since I ran out, I've been dying for more. Last week's abundant basil crop cried out to be used for basil salt, and it's been tossed over everything from roasted eggplant to grilled corn with no complaints. It's success has me pondering the wonders of thyme salt, sage salt, parsley salt, lavender salt. . . is there no end to the lovely salt combinations? We shall see.
Makes 1/2 cup
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, your favorite variety
1/2 cup kosher salt
Thoroughly and carefully rinse your basil leaves and place in one layer onto paper towels to dry. Roll the paper towels gently into a cylinder and then unroll them again, replacing any paper towel that's thoroughly soaked. You may need to do this twice to get the leaves completely dry.
Place your clean basil leaves in a food processer and pulse 3-4 times, just to start breaking up the leaves a bit. Add the salt and continue pulsing until combined. The salt will turn green, flecked with basil, and become a bit clumpy. (In time, the salt will dry the basil, keeping it vibrant green and absorbing its flavor. You can also do this with sugar, and let me just say that Basil and Blueberry Scones are a revelation. I'll leave it at that.)
Scoop your finished salt into a lidded jar or bottle and keep it in the refrigerator. This keeps indefinitely as it is cured by the salt.