I’ve been a VERY picky eater throughout my whole childhood, things finally started to loosen up when I went to university. Even today my mom loves to pull my leg about my early eating habits. We still have those very special moments at family get togethers, when she stares at me – while I’m enjoying my meal – followed by the inevitable question “You’re eating this??? But you never did when you were a kid!?“, with a slight reproachful undertone. I guess I must have been really problematic to feed. Care for a few examples? At Italian restaurants I always ordered pizza with salami, just to eliminate any piece of it… I very much liked the taste of salami on my pizza, but not the salami itself. Makes sense? And I liked the breadcrumb-coated fried mushrooms my grandma made for me. Just to nibble off the fried breadcrumbs, the mushrooms mysteriously vanished under the table. Where a somewhat overweight, yet dutiful dog was waiting…
Today I’m still a little biased about some dishes or ingredients, but there are only very few, that I am not willing to give a chance at all. What’s striking to me is that some ingredients I wholeheartedly wanted to open up to and was willing to taste and try, just didn’t do it for me. When I first tried basil (about ten years ago), its taste seemed too strong and to an extend “artificial”. The omnipresent Italian salad Caprese (tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) was typically undergoing the same treatment like my childhood salami pizza…
The years passed by and on different occasions basil and I met again. What can I say, love don’t come easy. To make a long story short, not only has it grown on me (no pun intended) after all, I would even without hesitation call myself a basil maniac. Currently we grow three flowerpots of basil on our kitchen window sill (all of them rather bald…). The last time I was shopping at the Greek grocery shop, I had to get in a longer line at the cashier and found myself burying my nose in a big green bunch of fresh basil – can you get high on basil? My own theory to all this is a combination of a) overcoming one’s own deep-rooted resentment and b) getting used to some new and unfamiliar taste buds experience. Thank goodness my taste buds have “surrendered” ;)
Having made your own pesto once, will likely make you never go back to ready-made ones right off the shelves and it is so easy, too. To complement our pasta we made a chunkier version of this delightful pesto recipe:
Toast the pine nuts in a small pan until they are golden brown. Keep shaking the pan, as pine nuts tend to burn easily, which can spoils their taste. Peel and mince the garlic and grate the cheese (or cheeses if you want to combine flavors – it’s always nice to have a little change).
You can either buy the fresh basil leaves in a bundle or whole basil plants. We shamelessly exploited our basil plants (from the kitchen window sill) and plucked pretty much all leaves, big and small ones. Not a pretty sight, but for a good cause. ;)
Put pine nuts, basil leaves, cheese, salt and olive oil into your kitchen blender and briefly blend. Depending on how saucy you want the pesto to be add more or less olive oil. For pasta we usually add a little more, for sandwiches/baguette or anything else a little less.
A final thought. We usually use the pulse function of our blender to make sure we only blend it briefly, this way the pesto stays a little chunkier.
For dessert we decided to go with basil lime sorbet, which turned out very nicely. The only question that kept spinning in my head was “How do chefs prevent sorbets from turning into soup?“. While visually and taste-wise a treat, it only takes a moment and the sorbet starts to get runny… We have first had this sorbet at Landersdorfer & Innerhofer a few years back and just recently again. Probably anticipating the response we got, we still asked them how they accomplished the extremely smooth texture and vivid color – they – of course – said that it was THE secret.
For the molasses: Put the water, the sugar and the lime zest into a pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes, then let remove from heat.
Add the lime juice and the basil leaves into a blender and blend well. Then add the concoction to the molasses and let infuse for a few minutes. Finally strain the mix through a fine sieve or cloth. Let it cool down completely.
Now either use an ice cream machine or simply put it in the freezer, but don’t forget to check back with the sorbet every 2-3 hours or so and stir well to ensure a uniform texture.
Recipe source: Own mix
Required time: preparation 15 min.
Ingredients (amounts vary; serves 2 (with pasta!)):
lots of fresh basil leaves (about 3/4 of a kitchenaid blender?)
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
60-80g pine nuts
80-100g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, Pecorino or Manchego cheese
50ml extra-virgin olive oil (amount is really just estimated, depends on the desired texture)
salt to taste
Basil Lime Sorbet
Recipe source: Inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe
Required time: preparation 20 min., chilling/ice cream machine: ~45min
Ingredients (serves 2-4):
6 limes, zested
juice of 4 limes
1 very large bunch basil (or two little basil pots)