Oh lovely lemon basil! We brought you to the market and then brought you right back home again. I was surprised my sweet little basket of basils didn’t get snatched up in a flash last week, but alas… your foolish choices mean more delicious food for me!
Funnily enough, this was a week on the farm where I managed to get almost more done on the home-front rather than the farm-front and it felt really good. Farming in the peak of summer means a constant battle against weeds, fighting our dry spell with time-consuming hand watering, and gauging how far I can push some of the leafy greens before they decide it’s time to flower. I’ve been operating on a level of stress these past few months that is too out of my comfort zone and one of my biggest stressors is coming home from a day of hard work, perhaps even then followed by an evening working at REI, to a messy house that is full of vegetables but no food to eat. You can see why farm wives are a thing.
So anyway this week I farm-wived for myself and instead of that meaning I stood in front of the open fridge while crunching on a head of lettuce, I actually went to the grocery store (!) Twice (!!) and made bread (!!?!!) and muffins (!!#omgdomesticgoddess!!) and cordial and hummus (!!swoon!!). My house got clean, I went through and put away my winter clothes and donated some stuff, and to cap it all I made all sorts of basil-filled meals with our leftover bounty.
I grow the regular Genovese basil we’re used to throwing on our margherita pizzas but also Thai basil, Tulsi (also known as “holy basil”), and of course the aromatic superstar, lemon basil. This got a lot of play during my two days of domesticity and we capped our day at the farm with this amazingly fast, outstandingly delicious pasta. While the sauce was the star, it gets thrown together on top of the pasta so you don’t even need another pot or pan if you have the foresight to go big when boiling. The butter mellows out the yogurt tang and the reserved pasta water acts as the binder to keep both the sauce sticking to the pasta but also to keep the yogurt from separating or curdling. Starchy magic! Then it’s just adding in some shredded Parmesan cheese, veggies of your choice (we did the last of our peas and some thinly sliced carrots, dropped into the boiling pasta about two minutes before the pasta was complete), and of course your lemon basil. Add some seasoning and stir, stir stir. And now eat!
No Sauce-Pan Lemon Basil Pasta:
1 pound pasta, shapes always preferred
1-2 cups vegetables. Peas, broccoli, the first green beans, thinly sliced carrots… go with your heart/ what’s in season!
1 cup whole milk yogurt
2 Tbs butter
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbs minced parsley
1 bunch lemon basil, chopped (approximately 4 TBS)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste (don’t skimp on the pepper!)
Boil pasta as directed on the package but reduce the amount of water by almost half. This gets you really starchy, salty water. Add your non-leafy vegetables to the water with about two minutes of boil time left.
Once the pasta is boiled, reserve about a cup of pasta water if you have to drain it.
Put the pasta-veggie mix and about half the reserved water into a skillet over medium heat and and add in all the ingredients except the cheese. Stir well and add more water if needed. If you are adding leafy greens, now’s the time! Once the mixture is warm enough, cut the heat, add your cheese and stir, remove the garlic cloves, and then serve with some more cheese sprinkled on top and a couple more cracks of black pepper. Yum! So easy!
To me, Basil=Summer but the squashes, tomatoes, and beans haven’t gotten the memo yet. We’re going to take a two-week hiatus from the farmers market while we wait for the stragglers to catch up and so I can have soulful times at a family reunion. I’ll see you CSA peeps on Tuesday and everyone else at the beginning of August!