Everywhere I look lately, I see basil. I watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa last night and the basil bush in her garden was positively massive. She sidled up to it like it was a friend, gathering the bright green leaves around her like a coat. If I was looking for a rosebush substitute for surrounding a castle and protect a sleeping princess, this basil bush would be IT! Can't you just smell it? Sweet. Peppery. Cool. Beautiful!
But basil is not just for Caprese salads. I hope you know that. Although it's delicious, basil's leaves aren't meant solely for Italian food.
Now, I pride myself on being able to combine flavors that aren't always mainstream. I look for cues that will surprise, but still compliment. And cinnamon, it turns out is the perfect canvas for combining basil and apples into an AMAZINGLY delicious salad.
Okay, in the west we think cinnamon is reserved for toast, or pop-tarts, or just hot cider. And we barely acknowledge its existence when it is juxtaposed against the generous and savory lushness of Indian food. But you have to understand the basic elements of cinnamon to appreciate its versatility. It has a hot mouthfeel, tempered by a high-note of sweetness that is felt intensely in your upper palate. It needs something very tart to make it sing. Kind of like basil which loves the tart tomato! That's why I knew that it would work in my apple salad.
A few words of advice. Use a sweet but not too tart apple. I find that Fuji apples are the perfect, crunchy choice. And even though I used canned pineapple, (sometimes I make do with what's in my pantry,) you could use fresh, but be sure and dial down the basil a bit. In fact, always taste as you go with any recipe because subtle changes in the kinds of ingredients you use can change EVERYTHING. Next, a dash of coriander and dried ginger added along with the cinnamon creates some complexity you'll love. And don't forget the all important FRESH lemon juice. Don't try the packaged variety. It will literally ruin everything. And Ina and I? We would be devastated....
Try this salad today! Perfect pairings, perfect colors, perfect for you!
RECIPE: Fuji Apple Basil Salad with Cinnamon and Ginger.
Serves 6 - #fabin40 - Click here for printable version
4 fairly small crisp Fuji apples, thinly sliced
4 pineapple rings, cut into pieces
½ t cinnamon
1/8 t coriander powder
1/8 t ginger powder
¼ C fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 heaping T granulated sugar
Sesame seeds for garnish
Large bunch of purple basil, about ¼ Cup chopped, divided.
Toss all ingredients, adding only half the basil at time of incorporation. Chill for 30 minutes with wet paper towel over the top. Add rest of basil right before serving so it won’t be brown. Add large leaves for garnish if desired.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.