Friday, April 17, 2009

Dried Arugula -- a Basil Substitute

You know how dried basil is so disappointing because it doesn't taste like anything? Particularly anything like basil? I have a solution. It still doesn't taste exactly like fresh basil, but it does provide a nice herbal pepper hit and stores in your pantry after a minute and a half of work.
The confetti pizza gave me the idea. The toasted arugula around the edges had an intense flavor, so I dried out some more of it, then stored it a couple weeks. I still don't know how long it'll keep it's punch, but the results are promising so far.
The "recipe" super easy: Rinse your greens if necessary. Spread them on a paper towel in a single layer. Nuke 30 seconds. Open door to let steam escape. Redistribute on towel. Repeat until crispy. Break into pieces [it's better to save the crumbling for when you actually use it]. Store in an airtight container.

If you buy it from the store, the arugula will probably be all about the same size. The stuff in my garden wasn't, so I made two piles and the bigger leaves got an extra 30 seconds.
A word of warning: Plant material will catch on fire in the microwave if you dry it out too much -- I once had a little mishap when sterilizing sphagnum moss-- but if you do it in 30 second intervals it won't be a problem.

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