Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Wonderful World of Basil

I will never stop singing the praises of the farmers market. While the produce selection is limited in the beginning of the growing season, somewhere in the middle of July the farms are churning out a large selection of produce. One of my personal favorite items to purchase are the massive bunches of bright green basil for $3 (quite a deal figuring they sell two to three sprigs of the "live herb" stuff for $2.99 at the grocery store). Frankly, its more basil than I can use most of the time, but I stick the remnants in a glass on my kitchen counter and it contributes a nice aroma to my apartment.

This week I was also hunting for the perfect bouquet of flowers to put in the ceramic pitcher my mother brought me from Italy. She returned from her two week hiatus in Italy with magnificent stories of hillsides covered in sunflowers so I thought it would be fitting to pick up a bunch at the market. I purchased as many as were left at the one stand selling flowers, 6 in total, and wandered back home to place them in my new vase.

Once trimmed and placed in the pitcher they looked a little sparse and needed some additional greenery added to the mix. My bunch of basil came to the rescue! The full stalks of basil leaves livened up the lonely stems and made for a stunning arrangement.

I also happened to use the basil in a chicken salad. I started with poaching the chicken in water, vegetable broth, and white wine along with half an onion and several cloves of smashed garlic. Once the mixture had begun to boil I added two chicken breasts and reduced the heat to a slow simmer. I let that simmer for 10 minutes at which point I topped the pot with a lid and turned off the heat. Once the pot was cool I put the entire thing in the fridge to meld overnight. The next morning I chopped the chicken into cubes, added chopped basil, shallots, celery, carrots, lite mayo, cream cheese, dijon, and salt and pepper. While I am always looking for ways to incorporate more veggies into my diet, I really dont like carrots and dont know why I insist on adding them to my meals. After all, I am only cooking for myself! Anyways, the salad is a great summer meal that I like to eat with a piece of fresh summer fruit and butter crackers. Feel free to leave the carrots out if you make this dish.

Chicken Salad with Basil

2 chicken breasts
1/2 onion
3 garlic cloves
2 c. water
2 c. veggie broth
2 c. white wine
3 small carrots
2 stalks celery
1 shallot
1/4 c. basil
1/4 c. mayo
1/8 c. cream cheese
3 T. dijon mustard
salt & pepper


Kevin said...

I really enjoy getting a nice big bunch of fresh basil from the farmers market. The smell is so good!

michelle @ TNS said...

the more basil, the better say i. pesto keeps beautifully in the freezer!