Tuesday, January 19, 2010
But I do love Italian dishes. Especially pesto, which I make with basil grown in my garden and nuts. Pine nuts are difficult to source, but I usually substitute with almonds that my mom sends via a Balikbayan box (thanks, Ma!). She also sends the olive oil, that costs an arm and a leg hereabouts. Which really just goes to show that in the kitchen, I am tied to my mom's apron strings.
Few Italian dishes are complete without the king of herbs, Basil (ocimum basilicum). Wiccan practitioners use it in spells for courage, fertility, healing relationships, love, protection, purification, wealth (if carried in your wallet). Its compounds have anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-viral properties and is considered an anti-oxidant.
Basil, in literature (primarily in Italy and India) symbolizes love, though the ancient Greeks used it to symbolize hate, so there may really be a fine line between those two. In Africa it is supposed to protect against scorpions. In Italy, its association with love manifests itself in various courtship rituals. A man, for instance, who visits a woman with basil in his hair is said to be proposing. In Moldavian culture, if a man accepts a sprig of basil from a woman, he will fall in love with her. Yet it is also associated with death, such as in India where it is grown on graves.
Personally I love basil for its distinct aroma, a masculine scent. I grow it on my windowsill (supposedly a symbol of meeting a lover) and in the garden where it tends to compete with my oregano, another herb for another day.
1 cup sweet basil leaves
1/4 c olive oil
1 t olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or almonds
dash of salt and pepper
Toss everything in a blender except for the 1t of oil. Grind to a paste or desired consistency. When serving add olive oil on top to prevent oxidation and maintain color. When storing, top the mixture with olive oil.