Basil grows really well on Beirut rooftops. Last week our friend Michel Nabti had us over for dinner cooking nothing short of Korean pancakes, BBQ’ed chicken, and Thai cucumber salad.I could go on for days about the meal, but I’d like to focus on the fact that before we left, Nabti ran out to his garden and filled up a gallon bag of all kinds of basil for us to take home before he raided the plants to make pesto. Black Thai basil, small Thai basil, Italian basil — everything!
Throughout the entire week I’ve been devising all kinds of ways to use the fresh basil, especially since its season is ending. Now is the time to pick it and eat it.
1. Basil peanut butter apple.
Oh my god, you could say I was enlightened in the moment, but it’s well known that Thai food uses a lot of peanuts so it’s a pretty natural pair. I chopped slices of apple, smothered them with peanut butter, and placed a large black basil leaf on top. Most delicious, sophisticated snack!
2. Pasta salad.
Sautee onions, red peppers, broccoli, and garlic in olive oil for a short time. Add already cooked spiral pasta. Cut up small cubes of feta. Throw in fresh chopped basil and fresh or dried mint. Salt and pepper. To die for! Cold or hot.
3. Fruit salad!
Michel already showcased a much more sophisticated version of this on his SCIB episode. Chop nectarines, plums, peaches (and my suggestion is any fruit you’re into at the moment like apples and bananas.) Fresh chopped basil and mint. Lemon juice and honey!
4. Basil eggplant.
Sautee chopped eggplant with as much sweet basil you can get your hands on and pour in some fish sauce. When the eggplant is done, serve it over white rice. And if you’re lucky, use Sriracha.
Fresh tomato, basil, olive oil, and bread with a dash of salt will always blow my mind. Simplicity, freshness, full flavor!
6. Soup with basil.
I love soups! The first one I did is a brothy meat soup. A blend between Tom Yum Goong and Pho. Ingredients include onion, ginger, carrot, mushrooms, and Harissa (North African spicy tomato paste) to start. Make it into a broth (adding water), throw in a bouillon if you want. Add lemon juice and red chili pepper . In the end, throw in the thinly sliced meat, cooked riced noodles, and a TON of fresh cilantro and basil. It’s perfect.
Now climb the stairs, pick some basil, and eat eat eat! Sahtein and Eid Mubarak.
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