Due to some generosity and the good fortune of our friends’ vacation, Chris and I inherited two weeks worth of farm-fresh produce. Our friends are members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the Dumbo/Vinegar Hill neighborhood. For those of you not familiar, CSA’s are a way for people to buy produce directly from local farms. Before the harvest season, members pre-pay to buy fresh, locally grown organic vegetables which they pick up one evening a week. The farm for this CSA is Sang Lee Farm on Long Island, and this week our share included red romaine, red bulb onions, a bunch of ong choy, purple basil, cherry tomatoes, orange heirloom tomatoes, and watermelon. The night we picked up the share, we made a big pot of mussels with white wine and crusty bread, sauteed the ong choy (which I had never heard of but it tasted kind of like spinach) with garlic and olive oil, made a salad of the red romaine and cherry tomatoes, and had some watermelon for dessert. I was in fresh veggie heaven, and we still had the onions, purple basil, orange tomato, and lots of watermelon left over.
On to the leftovers. Our friends whose CSA share it was had gotten some purple basil the week before (another thing I didn’t know existed until now!) and said it made a good pesto, so on Saturday I started preparing to make a purple pesto sauce for dinner. I found an interesting recipe which is lower in fat than most pesto sauces and uses tomatoes, which is really unusual. However, I quickly realized I didn’t have enough purple basil to make pesto, so I headed to the farmers market to look for more. I couldn’t find any purple basil, but as I wandered around past regular basil, thai basil, and lemon basil, I spotted huge bunches of flowery leaves labeled “cinnamon basil” at one of the stands. As soon as I got it home my whole apartment smelled incredible – like spicy, pungent cinnamony basil goodness. I even kept the flowers in a glass of water after I pulled all the leaves off because they were so pretty. At the market, I also picked up a loaf of black olive semolina bread, these tiny bright purple eggplants called “fairytale eggplant” and a beautiful bundle of swiss chard. With the CSA leftovers plus the farmers market additions, the dinner menu came together: orange heirloom tomatoes with watermelon & feta, black olive semolina bruschetta with purple/cinnamon basil pesto & grilled fairytale eggplant (idea found here), sauteed swiss chard with red onions, white wine, lemon & parmesan, and the rest of the pesto tossed with some whole wheat penne. Truly a feast. And I used more of the leftover pesto mixed with scrambled eggs for brunch this morning. Is there anything basil can’t make better?