Produce At Its Peak: Basil

Local produce can be in season year round with some products and basil is one of them. We sell basil from numerous different hydroponic and outdoor farms including Urban Organics in St. Paul, Featherstone Farm in Rushford, MN, Wisconsin Growers Co-op near Mondovi, Wisconsin, Living Waters Gardens in Wells, MN, and this upcoming summer from Sin Fronteras Farm in Stillwater, MN. We are currently carrying beautiful hydroponic basil from Living Waters Gardens.

Basil is a highly fragrant and flavorful herb used in many dishes. The flavor comes from the oil in the leaves and even if your basil gets a little wilted it is still useable. The best way I have found to store basil is to wrap it (unwashed) in a paper towel and place it in a loosely closed bag at room temperature. You can wash as needed for use. I also like to dry it for later use.

There are many kinds of basil with Sweet basil and Thai basil being two of the most popular. These are commonly used in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisine. Another basil variety, Holy Basil, or Tulasi, is used for religious and medicinal purposes. It is used in Ayurveda and revered as an elixir of life in Hinduism. We will see some Holy Basil later this summer from Red Clover Apocathery.

I typically use fresh sweet basil, the type you will commonly find year-round in our stores, on pizza, caprese salads, pasta dishes, and for making pesto. However, one of my favorite ways to use any variety of basil is in spring rolls. Spring rolls are fun and simple to make. Try this recipe or alter to taste!

Spring Rolls

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Ingredients:

Rice paper, round and dried

Protein of choice (fried or steamed tofu, cooked shrimp, chicken, pork or steak)

Rice vermicelli or bean thread noodles

Mung bean Sprouts

Shredded Carrot

Cilantro

Mint

Basil (Sweet, Thai, or Lemon are fine choices)

Dipping sauce of choice (peanut, hoisin, or sweet chili are good options)

Method:

Prepare protein, noodles and vegetables and set aside ready to use. Warm water in a large pot, but do not boil. Swish rice paper carefully in warm water until it becomes flexible and transparent but not too soft. Place rice paper flat on a cutting board and compile prepared protein, cooked noodles, bean sprouts, shredded carrot, cilantro, mint and basil sprigs in center. Wrap two opposite sides of rice paper towards center first, then wrap the other two sides to create a tight burrito like roll. Enjoy with dipping sauce!