Last week I talked about the Victory Garden at Andrew’s Legacy. We grow flowers, vegetables and herbs in this garden and one of our favorites is Basil so we always plant a long row of the large leafed variety “Genovese,” as well as “Dark Opal,” “Siam Queen,” and many others. We make between 2 and 4 gallons of pesto at the end of the season, freeze it in small containers and use it in many different recipes through out the year. Of course we eat it in the traditional way- served with parmigiana over spinach linguini, but we also use it in many other ways. We substitute the oil for pesto when making French bread, a simple trick that creates an amazing aromatic basil bread. We par-boil baby red potatoes and bake them in an au gratin dish covering them with Pesto and parmigiana. Sometimes, in the winter, if a recipe calls for basil and oil we substitute pesto for a fresher flavor. This brings us to how we came up with our recipe for Basil Pesto Eggs Benedict, the culmination of our desire to create a savory breakfast using our favorite herb in a béchamel sauce which reduces the fat, cholesterol and calories of the more traditionally used Hollandaise sauce.
Basil Pesto Eggs Benedict
3 tbls. Tarragon vinegar
2 tbls. Butter
2 tbls. Flour
1 cup milk
3 tbls. Basil Pesto*
4 English Muffins**
8 slices Canadian Bacon
Shredded Jarlsberg Cheese, about 1 cup
Microplaned or grated Locatelli Romano Cheese
Boil water and tarragon vinegar in a large shallow pan, a deep frying pan will do. While water is coming to a boil make basil pesto béchamel sauce. Put flour and butter into a 1 qt. sauce pan on a medium heat blending melting butter into flour. Once blended add milk. Cook on medium heat and when mixture begins to thicken add pesto. Toast muffin halves on a tray in stove at 190 for 6 minutes. Evenly distribute shredded Jarlsberg cheese over muffins and return to oven for about 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Brown bacon quickly on a hot griddle. When tarragon vinegar water has come to a rolling boil add eggs, cook 2.5 minutes to 3.5 minutes depending how you like the firmness of the yoke. Remove from water with slotted spoon or similar device. Place English muffins with melted cheese on the plates. Put bacon on muffins and eggs on bacon. Ladle basil béchamel sauce over eggs and top with microplaned Locatelli. Sprinkle chopped chives on top and garnish with red tomatoes or herbs.
*You can use homemade basil pesto or store bought.
•• We have used homemade basil bread and found the subtle flavor of the basil bread is drowned out by the sauce. You can use this if you like, but we have found the English muffins are just as good and in some cases preferred.
The completed dish, served with microplaned Locatelli Romano cheese, chopped chives and garnish with Lemon Balm, cherry tomatoes, and chive flowers.
Many varieties of Basil in the garden, including dark opal, Siam and Cinnamon.