Valley Bounty: Basil
Basil is a quintessential summer ingredient, providing big flavor in easy ways: topping slabs of tomato and fresh mozzarella, or chopped and mixed with butter and spread on corn-on-the-cob. It comes in a surprising array of varieties and flavors—Thai basil makes a great, spicy chicken marinade, and lime basil begs to be muddled and made into cocktails. Basil’s good with summer fruits, too. Try a sandwich of goat cheese, basil, and sliced peaches, sprinkled with balsamic vinegar.
Pesto is the best preservation method for basil. I freeze it without nuts or cheese, and add those when I eat it. If you want fresh basil flavor without garlic, just blend up basil and oil and freeze it in small blobs on a cookie sheet or in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, put the blobs in a bag and use all winter in soups, pasta, and on pizza.