It has been one wet summer in Alabama. I know I shouldn’t complain, what with wildfires combusting out west, and kids stir-frying on manhole covers in the streets of Beijing. But when every day in the past ten has gone grey, and what looks to be a chilly fall races toward us, my mood gets a little…damp.
And I think my farmer’s market produce feels the same way (as much as a zucchini can feel, but you get my point). Vegetables are waterlogged, losing firmness in a couple days rather than a week. The seasons for certain fragile produce, like blueberries and figs, have started and ended much earlier this year. The farmers probably don’t mind tromping around in the mud, but they don’t want all their hard, patient work to literally be washed away.
Still, the best strategy is to get what’s good, while it’s good—whatever that may be. Today, it’s basil. My mom has been growing the stuff like a weed with almost no effort, the leaves so big they weigh down the rest of the plant. I throw whole leaves into salads or tear and toss into fresh sauces or simply sautéed vegetables.
My absolute favorite use this summer has three ingredients: chopped peaches, basil, and honey thinned with a little warm water. Every time I try to add something else (lime juice, a little feta), it’s never as good as the original. Luckily for me, we’ve still got plenty of peaches.
Check out these basil recipes for tips on using up your bounty.