Monday, September 10, 2012

Herbed Salts


Basil salt 1


Basil, basil everywhere!

One sure sign of the end of summer is the harvesting of my huge basil patch. It’s a good 4 foot by 3 foot patch and as of this writing it’s about 4 feet tall.

I usually make a few batches of pesto with it each year, but this year I have so much of it that I knew I needed to find something else to make with it. I took some of it and made olive oil ice cubes with it.

Yes, olive oil ice cubes. You read that right.

I think I saw the idea on Pinterest. I’m sure there is some kind of recipe, but I just winged it.

Here’s what I did…

Basil & Olive Oil Ice Cubes
I chopped up a big bunch of basil leaves in the food processor. Just pulsed it until it was chopped up well. I bought cheap ice cube trays at the dollar store (2 for a buck) and put a heaping teaspoon of chopped basil in each ice cube holder, then I filled them with olive oil. Into the freezer they went and once they were frozen solid, I bagged and labeled them for the freezer. Now they are ready for a quick drop in a frying pan, or for a drop in a big pot of soup. So simple!

Next came seasoned salts.

Enter my mother-in-law. Can I just say how thankful I am that I have her in my life? Can I? She is always on the lookout for great recipes for me. She’ll call and tell me about something she saw in a magazine or on TV and then it will appear in my inbox. She sent me this basil salt recipe from Food Network magazine and got to work making it over the labor day weekend.

I had a steady flow of teenage boys in and out of my house over that weekend, so I decided to put some of them to good use. I had my youngest Evan and his friend Tyler come and pick a huge bucketful of basil with me.

We sat at the kitchen table plucking basil leafs off plants for a good half hour. The boys them complained that their hands stunk. Stunk? How can you think the smell of basil stinks?

The basil salt was super easy to make. I can hardly wait to use it on lasagna and stuffed shells. The smell is amazing too!


Basil salt

Basil Salt
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup kosher salt

Place the basil leaves and the salt in a food processor ( you could use a blender if you don't have a food processor). Pulse until the basil is chopped. You don't want to process it too much, just a few pulses will do.

Line a baking sheet with parchment (this makes for easy transportation later) and spread it out on the pan.

Heat the oven to 225 and bake for 15 minutes. Take it out of the oven and scrape it up a little with a spatula. It will tend to clump up a bit in the oven. Just break it up, move it around and put it back in the oven for another 15 miutes. Let it cool for a bit, then pick up the parchment and pour the salt back into the food processor. Pulse again until finely grated. Store in an airtight container.

Note: you can make this recipe in any quantity you choose. I think the original was a half cup. I actually used 4 cups and made a huge batch, but you can use whatever about you like. Just use equal parts packed basil leaves and kosher salt. 

So after this recipe, my brain start churning and I start to think about the other herbs growing in my garden and what kind of flavored salts I could make with them.

In addition to a huge basil patch, I grow a lot of thyme too. This led me to my next inspiration....Lemon Thyme Salt.

Zesty with a touch of tang this salt would go perfectly with fish and chicken.

Lemon thyme salt 1 r

Lemon Thyme Salt
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup kosher salt

In the bowl of a food processor add the salt, the zest of one lemon and the thyme leaves. Pulse until combined. Line a baking sheet with parchment (this makes for easy transportation later) and spread it out on the pan.

Heat the oven to 225 and bake for 15 minutes. Take it out of the oven and scrape it up a little with a spatula. It will tend to clump up a bit in the oven. Just break it up, move it around and put it back in the oven for another 15 miutes. Let it cool for a bit, then pick up the parchment and pour the salt back into the food processor. Pulse again until finely grated. Store in an airtight container.
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