(Updated July 2008) I've written about basil vinaigrette a few times since I first posted this recipe, but last night I picked a huge bucket of basil from my garden, chopped it up in my food processor with olive oil, froze some of the chopped basil, and made a big batch of basil vinaigrette with the rest for a family party tonight. That's when I decided it was time to update this post with a photo of basil vinaigrette, one of my favorite things about summer. I love tomatoes any way you prepare them, however serving tomatoes with basil vinaigrette drizzled over them takes the summer tomato thing to a whole new level.
This dressing uses purchased vinaigrette. If you're a salad dressing purist, of course you can make your own. I'm completely a purist about some foods and totally into convenience for others. For example, chicken stock is something I religiously make from scratch and I'm convinced nothing from a can ever tastes as good. Salad dressing, on the other hand, is something that I can make if I want to, but I often think, why bother? There are so many fantastic dressings on the market, and so many other things I want to make instead.
Basil Vinaigrette for Drizzling over Tomatoes
(Check after the recipe for other uses for Basil Vinaigrette. If anyone has other good suggestions for using this, please share them in the comments.)
Combine at room temperature:
3 parts of your favorite low sugar vinaigrette dressing
1 part basil puree (see below)
Mix well, using food processor or mini-blender if desired. Use to drizzle over sliced tomatoes, sliced tomatoes topped with goat cheese, or sliced tomatoes layered over fresh mozarella.
How to make the basil puree:
1 cup (tightly packed) fresh basil leaves, washed and dried well
1/2 cup (or less for stronger basil flavor) best quality extra virgin olive oil
Put basil into bowl of food processor. Turn processor on and pour oil through feed tube. Process until basil is in very small pieces and completely integrated into olive oil. You should still be able to see some basil pieces but they will be very small. This freezes very well and is great for adding to pasta sauce all winter long. You can also use a similar method to freeze basil in larger pieces.
When I make this I rarely measure. I pack the bowl of the food processor with basil leaves, then start the motor running and drizzle olive oil through the feed tube until the basil is moving around in the bowl. I put more or less oil, depending on how I'm going to be using the basil.
You can use any type of Italian or Vinaigrette dressing for this that you think has good flavor. For the South Beach Diet, choose a dressing with not more than 3 grams of sugar. (I previously have recommend not over 2 grams of sugar, but the newest book - The South Beach Diet Supercharged - says up to 3 grams of sugar.)
More Ideas from Kalyn's Kitchen for using Basil Vinaigrette:
Lightly Steamed Asparagus with Basil Vinaigrette
Grilled Halibut with Basil Vinaigrette
Summer Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese, Basil Vinaigrette, and Fresh Herbs
Hearts of Palm Salad with Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta