So we cater to the basil in summer. We nurture the soil with compost, no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. We cover the young basil plants with mesh to keep beetles from eating it. (We use tulle from a fabric store.) Mulch it with leaves. And all summer long we collect lots and lots of basil, much more than we can eat fresh. To take advantage of the basil abundance, my husband Ken has perfected a method of freezing the basil with olive oil so that we have a steady supply all year, for pesto on noodles and pesto pizza. Yum! Each frozen packet is just right for one pizza or one pesto-on-noodles dinner.
Harvesting and preserving the basil
Periodically during the summer, Ken picks basil leaves without damaging the plants, for the purpose of preserving them. He washes the leaves and shakes all the water out, in the colander. Then he piles the leaves on the kitchen table. Each pile equals about one tightly-packed measuring cup of basil.
He stuffs each pile of basil into a sandwich bag.
After that, Ken rolls up each bag as tightly as he can, squeezing the air out as he goes. He seals it shut and baggie of basil retains the rolled up shape; he pops it into the freezer for later use.
Making a pesto pizza from the stored basil
Last night we decided to make a pesto pizza. We could have used fresh basil, but using the frozen basil is actually easier, and tastes just as good.
While it's still in pieces as in the picture above, he puts the still-frozen basil on the pizza crust. The crust below is a homemade crust, a blend of whole-wheat flour, white flour, corn flour and corn meal.
After adding the basil, we top it with sliced veggies and other things on hand: black olives, tomatoes and okra and zucchini from a sunnier garden plot, walnut pieces, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese. If we use cheese, the cheese goes on right after the basil. We bake it at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
It's one of my favorite dishes of all time! I'm glad our finicky raised bed forces us to plant so much basil!
Ken's crust recipe3 cups of flour (the pizza pictured was made of a blend of flours: 1.5 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup white, 1/2 cup corn meal, 1/2 cup corn flour)
1 tbsp yeast
finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup olive oil
Work it into a ball, adding slight bit more water as needed to form a ball
Cover and let it rise for 30 minutes
Put it on an oiled pizza pan and shape it to the pan