Thursday, August 27, 2009

The sweet smell of roasting garlic

Roasted Garbanzo Bean and Garlic with Swiss Chard is making a return appearance. If you were one of the people who missed it the first time around try to make it in today. It is served on a veggie pilaf with toasted baguette.

Sandwich specials will include the Curried Parmesan Tuna Salad, Fresh Tomato and Basil Panini with Smoked Mozzarella and the Turkey BLT with Basil Mayo.

This week at the market I picked up some beautiful bunches of purple basil (also known as opal basil) with no particular purpose in mind and although we have been doing "tomato this and basil that" for a week now, the purple basil just wasn't speaking to me. The ripe red tomatoes and bright green basil nestled up against the white of mozzarella or baguette just seem right.

There are several easy ways to preserve fresh leafy herbs. My favorite is to process them with a bit of olive in the food processor, dollop that out by the tablespoon into ice cube trays and freeze them. Then pop the frozen cubes out of the tray and store in a zip lock bag in the freezer. In January when a little one ounce package of basil costs $4.95 this little bit of summer freshness will cost you all of about 25 cents.

Another very easy solution is flavored vinegar. Just put the herbs in vinegar, let sit for a month or so and voila! flavored vinegar. Toss in fruit or mix herbs for unique flavor combinations. You can vinegar buy the gallon and recycle soy sauce, salad dressing and other glass bottles to package the homemade gourmet vinegar. In the photo below, I have soaked the label off of a bottle of inexpensive white wine vinegar and saved the container for repackaging; put the white wine vinegar, fresh purple basil, several smashed cloves of garlic and a dozen peppercorns in a quart jar; and labeled the jar with the contents (especially helpful if you want to make gift tags or labels December). These make great hostess gifts.