Ode to Basil

Sweet Sweet Basil, how I could eat you atop of anything.

Slathered, layered, blended and smashed, especially stepped on with a mortar and pestle.

Drunken within a mélange of olive oil, herbs and nuts. Draped alongside cheese. Encrusted within a pizza.

Pounded into garlic. Swimming in a bowl of pasta. Most of all…  in a magnificent ensemble of pesto.

This is my ode to Basil, I will eat you atop of everything!

Ode To Basil

Inspired by this month’s cover story on Saveur Magazine and a favorite Brooklyn haunt Press 195.  I’ve brought together a selection of this month’s Saveur recipes and smashed them directly into Press 195’s maple pesto recipe to create one incredible motha-load of a pesto.

I’m actually licking a spoonful of the stuff right now.  Really! Slurp!

Nutty Maple Pesto Sauce

Nutty Maple Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves (stems removed)

1/2 cup arugula leaves

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pine nuts (raw and unsalted)

1/4 cup pistachios (roasted and unsalted)

1/2 cup walnuts (unsalted)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano

6 garlic gloves

5 tablespoons pure maple syrup

salt & pepper to taste

Process basil, arugula, olive oil, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts, parmigiano, zest and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped; stir in the maple syrup and season with salt and pepper.

I graciously spread the sweet, nutty – heady sauce over every inch of these tomato and mozzarella panini’s that I’ve toasted into a gooey hot mess of goodness.  I suggest you do the same.

Tomato Mozzarella Pesto Panini

Tomato Mozzarella Pesto Panini

1 loaf chiabatta bread

1 large tomato

1 – 8 ounce ball mozzarella

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons nutty maple pesto

Slice bread lengthwise, drizzle top slice with olive oil, slather bottom slice with pesto, use as much as your heart desires!  Cover with tomato and mozzarella alternating each layer.

Place in oven and toast/bake for 8 to 10 minutes until melted.  Serve immediately with a side dish of pesto for extra dipping pleasure.

Gooey Maple Pesto Hot Mess

The real reason I love this incredible herb is because it reminds me of my sweet “baba” – my father.

He would sit on the front porch, drinking his thick molasses Greek coffee with his top right shirt pocket full of flowery sweet basil; every so often he would lean down to smell it’s aroma and smile.

I can only imagine the wonderful memories that would be inspired at that moment, the same way he’s inspired me.

Baba & Georgie

The poem “Ode to Basil” and this post is dedicated to my baba, who went to sleep forever 10 years ago this week, and who taught me to be a better person because of who he was.  This is my “Ode to Baba!”

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