Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Monday, July 9, 2012

Growing basil- outside!

I love fresh basil, particularly in the summer.

My lovely little basil plant!
I have a brown thumb which I am trying so hard to transform into a green one, but many a plant has perished at my hand!

This year I took the plunge and put a pot of basil out in my building's backyard. It is still alive (about 4 weeks later! Typically my basil plants last closer to 4 days when they stay in my apartment) I had been told that growing things inside could be part of the reason my thumb is so brown....apparently plants just prefer to grow outside, who knew?? It seemed high time to test this theory!

My little plants are giving me snippings of basil to use in some new summer recipes, which is simply the best. I now have a glimpse into why some people love to garden so much!

I used some of my basil in a new appetizer recipe I tested on my book club. It is a Goat Cheese & Fig Grilled Cheese (recipe below, compliments of the website, and Cooking Light) which only requires a sprinkle of fresh basil, but it gave the sandwiches some flavor complexity and balanced the sweetness of the honey a bit. I chose to slice the sandwiches into 4 triangles each (like your mom used to do with your PB & J when you were little) and they made a great appetizer.

Sorry I didn't take a photo of the sandwiches- but really - this post is about my greening thumb & my love of my little basil plants.
I hope you enjoy the recipe, I did. My hat is off to & Cooking Light for a fun new summer option.

Goat Cheese & Fig Grilled Cheese (I've italicized the things I adjusted/changed in the recipe, to make clear the "real" recipe versus my interpretation)
2 teaspoons honey I used way more than this. Probably closer to 2 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind (zest)
1 (4-ounce) package goat cheese I think I made 8oz of the goat cheese mixture. As it turns out- it is a delicious dip for crackers & carrot sticks!
8 (1-ounce) slices cinnamon-raisin bread
2 tablespoons fig preserves
2 teaspoons thinly sliced fresh basil
Cooking spray I used butter because of the flavor it adds & the way it helps the bread crisp, but if you watching calories, cooking spray is a great way to go
1 teaspoon powdered sugar (I omitted this- it seemed like not a lot of flavor & a pain in my butt to use it!)
1. Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring until well blended. Spread 1 tablespoon goat cheese mixture on each of 4 bread slices; top each slice with 1 1/2 teaspoons preserves and 1/2 teaspoon basil. Top with remaining bread slices. Lightly coat outside of bread with cooking spray.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 sandwiches to pan. Place a cast-iron or heavy skillet on top of sandwiches; press gently to flatten I didn't want to dirty another pan, so I simply pressed down on the sandwiches with the back of my spatula!. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until bread is lightly toasted (leave cast-iron skillet on sandwiches while they cook). Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Sprinkle with sugar. Or don't sprinkle with sugar....its your prerogative!
3. Slice into 4 triangles if you're serving as an appetizer, or 2 triangles if you're eating it as a main dish!

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