BASIL, MUSHROOM AND PARSLEY DRESSING

from The Good Cook, Time-Life’s cooking series – serves 4

This is for hot vegetables. Poured over them just as they come out of the water or steam. If it’s water, pour out the cooking water and let the vegetables dry. Green beans are the choice for this dressing in France.

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup chopped basil leaves – or 2 tsb. Dried
2 tbsp. tarragon white wine vinegar
½ cup mushrooms
1 tbsp. walnut oil
¼ cup chopped parsley

Soften the butter in a mortar or small bowl and work in the basil leaves, plus 1 tablespoon of the vinegar. Toss the mushrooms with the oil and remaining vinegar. Toss the hot vegetables in the basil butter, mushrooms and parsley and serve.

Green Bean, Tomato and Potato Salad with Almond-Basil Pesto

from Things Cooks Love – serves 4 to 6

1 clove garlic
1 tsb plus ½ tsb coarse salt
4 tbsp coarsely chopped unsalted roasted or dry-roasted almonds
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, stemmed
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
¼ cup olive oil
1 pound Yukon Gold or other boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
12 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 large, ripe tomato, cut into thin wedges, for garnish

Place the garlic, ½ tsb of the salt, and 2 tbsp of the almonds in a mortar and pound with the pestle to a smooth paste. Gradually add the basil while pounding, adding more only after each batch has been reduced to a paste. This talks 2 or 3 minutes.

When the basil leaves or pounded to a smooth paste, gradually add both cheeses, stirring with the pestle to blend them with the basil paste. Then drizzle in the olive oil with one hand while stirring and pounding with the pestle in the other hand until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Fill a 6-quart Dutch oven or other large pot two-thirds full of water and bring to a boil. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of salt and the potatoes. Boil, uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the green beans and boil for 6 to 8 minutes until both the beans and the potatoes are tender. Drain into a colander.

Place the beans and potatoes in a large serving bowl, spoon the pesto on top, and fold together gently with a rubber spatula until blended. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbsp of almonds. Garnish with the tomato wedges. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Olive Basil Sauce

Makes about 1 ½ cups

1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 cup fresh basil leaves
¾ cup toasted walnuts
1 large garlic clove
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ cup olive oil

Blend first 6 ingredients in a processor to coarse puree. With machine running, gradually add the olive oil.
Season with pepper
Will last two weeks

You can use this sauce on pasta, salad, fish, like tuna or swordfish. On lettuce, top with feta cheese. Spread the mixture on thin slices of baguette, sprinkle with feta and broil. For breakfast fill omelets with the mixture and dot the tops with feta cheese and minced basil.

Some tips about preserving herbs

Freezing: The easiest way to handle herbs it to simply put them in zippered plastic bags (wash the herbs well and remove the tough ends; whether you chop them or not is up to you). Basil should be blanched for about a minute before it’s frozen or it will turn black; the others don’t need it) though their color will be brighter if you do). When they’re thawed, they’ll be crumbly and should be treated like dry herbs.

Drying: Simply tie a bunch with a string or ribbon and hang upside down in a dry spot (keep away from drafts, cooking fumes, and extreme cold). When they’re completely dry, crumble them and store in a glass jar with a tight cover. If you need to protect your drying herbs from dust or animals, place them in a plastic bag before tying them.

Microwaving: You can dry herbs in a microwave oven in a matter of seconds; just remember that if you leave them for a second too long, you’ll find a pile of ash or possibly a blazing bouquet. Spread the herbs on a paper towel and cover with another paper towel (dry about a cupful at a time). Microwave on high for 40 seconds; check and repeat for 5 seconds at each try, until the herbs are dry and crumbly. After the first round, don’t let it go for more than five seconds at a time.

Any-Herb Pesto

Ingredients: Salt
2 1/2 loosely packed cups fresh basil, parsley, mint, chives, dill, cilantro, or any combination
(Note: If you want to use stronger herbs like rosemary, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, or oregano, limit yourself to a tablespoon per batch and make up the bulk with parsley, basil, dill, or another less-intense herb.)
1 small garlic clove, or to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts or roughly chopped walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil, or to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Combine the herbs with a pinch of salt, the garlic, nuts, and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually. At this point, the pesto can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to several months. Wait to add the cheese until after you have defrosted the pesto, or add it to the food processor or blender to taste.

And to quick ways to fix cabbage (besides your 4th of July coleslaw)