I had plenty of basil in the garden, but the season is almost over now. The other day I picked the last bunch. Pasta with pesto is the fastest food I know, and it tastes wonderful when the basil is freshly picked.
Collect, wash and drain fresh basil. Fry pine nuts in a dry saucepan. In a blender, puree the basil and the pine nuts with lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Proportions are up to your taste. Meanwhile, cook pasta. Mix the pesto with the pasta and add grated Parmesan cheese (optional).
Nettle is healthy, tastes good and you can pick its fresh sprouts for free in forests in the springtime. I usually make nettle tea but it is also great for soups. Here comes my favourite one:
- Soak 100 g barley for 1 hour.
- Chop 1 onion finely and run it on hot olive oil in a saucepan.
- Add 4 tablespoon ground almond and 1 tablespoon all purpose flour. Stir it until gets golden.
- Chop celery root and leaves, a bit of fresh lovage as well as a generous amount of fresh chive, basil, oregano and sage leaves. Add it to the onion-almond mix.
- Add 1-1.5 l water (depends on how thick soup you want) and a stock cube.
- Rinse barley and add to the soup when it is boiling.
- Add salt and cook it slowly until the barley is almost done.
- Add a big bunch of fresh, chopped nettle and cook it for 5 more minutes.
- Serve it with parmesan cheese and brown bread.
When I was a student, I used to have a part time job in a bakery with free access to the daily leftover. That was the time when I fell in love with focaccia. It is nice by itself, excellent with a glass of good wine and perfect with creamed soups.
- Mix 2 g fresh yeast with 1 dl milk and a teaspoon sugar. Let it stay in a warm place until the yeast pops up on the top of the milk (about 10 minutes).
- Measure 400 g white flour, 1.5 tablespoon salt and 0.5 dl olive oil.
- Add the yeast mixture to it and make a nice, soft dough.
- Cover it with a wet tea towel and let it grow for about 1-2 hours (or, until it gets double sized).
- Coat a baking pan richly with olive oil.
- Put the dough onto the pan and stretch it out with fingers. Push some holes on the dough in order to make a craggy surface.
- Add some topping. It can be pickled garlic, pickled tomatoes in oil, olives, onion in thick slices… whatever you like.
- Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle dried basil and oregano.
- Let the dough grow in a warm place (it can be the oven on 45 ºC) for about 1 hour.
- Bake it on 200 ºC for about 30 minutes, or until it turns to golden brown.
- Sprinkle with sea salt.
This is one of the fastest dinners I can make - and I make it pretty often, because I love the combination of broccoli, dried basil and garlic.
- In a cooking pot, cook 1 smaller, finally chopped onion with 4 tablespoon olive oil.
- Add a big tablespoon white flour and stir until it becomes golden.
- Add about 1 litter water and 1 chopped potato and cook it for about 5 minutes.
- Add broccoli florets, 0.5 vegetable bouillon cube, salt, pepper, dried basil powder, 2 finally chopped garlic cloves and cook it until the broccoli becomes soft.
- Mix it with a blender.
- Add 0.5 dl cream, stir and warm it up again (do not boil).
- Serve it with sour cream and bread or focaccia.