I have been hearing the evil phrase “Too much basil!” being uttered by many silly gardeners and food bloggers. This is a proclamation I have no patience with. I have never had great luck in producing an “overabundance” of basil, no matter how hard I try. What I wouldn’t give to have so much basil I could experience basil exhaustion. The truth is, however, that there is no such thing for me. Too much basil? You will miss it like a lost limb in midwinter, so make a million batches of pesto to freeze! Use it in salads, or ratatouille (also to freeze!), in pasta dishes, in ricotta for stuffing those ubiquitous zucchinis everyone also claims to get so sick of they could throw up at the sight of another one…
Basil is one of the single most versatile herbs I know of and though you can dry it, I have always felt that dried basil is a travesty of fresh. Frozen basil is far superior to dried as well, provided you freeze it with oil to protect its lush greenness.
Most dressings I make I use dried herbs because I make large batches and sometimes the fresh herbs will brown before I get to using them. However, I highly recommend making this fresh basil dressing, make it in a single batch and use it up within a week and you won’t regret it. Regret it? No, you’ll LOVE it! I have already used it on a summer white bean salad (recipe coming soon) and as a dressing for pasta. If you think pesto is too heavy or you want the fresh basil flavor but without cheese, you have got to try putting half a cup of this dressing on a pound of cooked pasta with roasted vegetables.
But obviously, this dressing will also shine on a simple fresh summer salad.
Fresh Basil Dressing
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 bunch basil (about 2 cups loosely packed)
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp spicy brown mustard (or your own favorite mustard)
1/2 tsp salt
25 grinds of fresh black pepper
Put all the ingredients together into either a blender or into a container big and deep enough for an immersion blender to work well. Blend it until all the basil is finely chopped and the dressing is creamy.
Recipe notes: If you don’t like mustard it’s still very good without it. I like mustard so much I use a lot of it in most of my salad dressings. It makes the dressing tangy which I love and this tanginess is surprisingly wonderful on pasta. I also find that prepared mustard adds body to a dressing which I like.