Towards the end of last summer I threw a few things in my freezer, and now, these fresh herbs and fruits in stasis are getting me through this long, bleak winter.
Frozen Basil in Olive Oil
I had quite the forest of basil in my window last summer. But sadly, towards the end of the season, some scale decided to descend upon the branches... So, I decided to rescue the leaves and toss the plants before the infestation spread (alas, I've recently discovered that I was too late...).
Clean the basil leaves extra super well and toss them into a blender or processor with about 1/2 cup of olive oil (I added a little more as I puréed, just to get the process going). Pour the puréed basil/olive oil mixture into an ice cube try, then freeze. The next day, pop the basil cubes into a freezer bag, squeeze out the air, and return to the freezer.
I've been using the result all winter long... Like last night: I sautéed some portobello mushrooms and a little smoked sausage in the basil/olive oil, then tossed with pasta, served with Parmesan, a little sea salt, and some crushed red pepper. Wintry, but with a fresh basil summer brightness. Yum.
Slow Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
My friend Suzanna (who has the most beautiful organic vegetable garden and is the Queen of Preserving), shared a fabulous recipe for oven roasting tomatoes. Apparently, the idea is an traditional Italian one using old brick ovens, transferred to the modern oven.
Use in-season summer tomatoes (I had a mixture of lovelies from upstate and heirlooms from the Farmers Market). Cut them to a uniform size (in half or quarters, depending on the size of the tomato) and place them skin-side down on a baking sheet. Drizzle about 1/2 cup olive oil over them (or a little more--enough to generously coat the tomatoes). Use your hands to make sure the tomatoes are coated, then sprinkle a little Maldon Sea Salt on each one. Place them in the oven at 350F for 15 minutes (my oven runs a little hot, so...), then 300F for 1/2 hour, then 250 until they are nice and roasted--starting to get a little dark brown/black around the edges. Pour the tomatoes and oil into a bowl and allow to cool.
My little "thinking ahead to winter" trick: I froze them. I put some in an ice cube tray (which I popped out the next day and put in a plastic freezer bag), and some in larger portions in small plastic containers. I've used them primarily for quick pasta dishes, but you could use them in anything that calls for roasted tomatoes. Better than anything you'd buy in a store!!!