Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Crispin! Basilio!

Unlike most Filipinos, I do not like my spaghetti sweet or with hotdogs. I'm sorry if that sounds unpatriotic, but really, one look at the hotdogs swimming in bright artificially red sauce is enough to give me leg cramps from running in the opposite direction.

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.

My Pesto

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.


AdB said...

Basil is absolutely gorgeous.

And I'm very much like you too... I can't stand sweet spahgetti or hotdogs in spags.

Love Italian cuisine especially in Naples.

And bravo for this blog!

vic torres said...

hi trix,
my wife's uncle (who is a recognized botanist - dr. ed gomez) gave us a basil plant. he told us there are two species here in the philippines. the one in the photo is the local type. one of the things he (specifically) told us is never let the plant really grow big because once it grows wild, wala na. the leaves will be tasteless.
i like your blog!

DeliSyosa said...

Hi Ma'm Anna. Thank you! We certainly would like to hear about Napoli food.

Vic, Thanks! Yes, basil is an annual and loses its potency after flowering. The flowers are said to be very effective for love spells, though. Hehehe.

LPM said...

My mostly vegetarian family enjoy this pesto sauce regularly! One variation is using cilantro instead of basil and I throw in anchovies! ;)

DeliSyosa said...

I have cilantro growing here somewhere on my windowsill. I think I will try it.
Anchovies are an inspired idea! If I find any, I will toss in some for taste.
Thank you LPM!

LPM said...

You can even use regular bagoong na isda, just temper how much you put in it because of the sodium. I often add extra garlic to my dipping version and tone it down with evoo if it gets too powerful. By the way, how can I post pics of dishes I will be sharing here, Trixie?

Adrian Ayalin said...

Hi atty, was about to ask about the difference of basil served fresh with the noodles of pho hoa and the basil sold in supermarkets. Parang magkaiba sila ano? YOur friend sadi dalawa nga ang species dito sa pilipinas, baka kaya magkaiba sila ng amoy at lasa. Parang sweet variety yung sa pho hoa tapos yung sa supermarket yung matapang ang amoy.

Btw, nice blog, will bookmark this.

DeliSyosa said...

Hi Adrian. The basil used for Italian dishes are usually sweet basil. The one used in Thai dishes is well, called Thai basil.
Actually there are lots of species of basil, including holy basil and lemon basil both are available here now and can be grown locally.

DeliSyosa said...

LPM, just send them to me, and I will post them.

Maribel said...

Basil has the best scent of all the spices. That is why its called the Kind of the Spices.

LPM said...

Love basil over tomatoes with buffalo cheese or any other light soft cheese and then drizzled with evoo. Basil is indeed wonderful over lentil soup and so many other dishes. Nothing like fresh basil!

DeliSyosa said...

I slice a couple of tomatoes with three or four leaves of fresh basil, drizzle olive oil on it and season. Makes a great side salad!