Saturday, July 28, 2007


As local as it gets. "Everything" seems to dry up and blow away on my deck, so I was a little hesitant to attempt to keep a basil plant alive out there. And since I've managed to keep it alive for about a month now, I thought I would proudly unveil it to you. How much more local than food grown on your deck? I thought it would be an extra-special kick off to my post the week I'm hosting the round up. Naturally, basil is my herb of choice.

Basil is originally native to India and other warm Asian climates, and has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. Basil comes from a Greek word meaning "King". Basil is often paired with tomatoes, as in my recipe, and is best used fresh. It loses its savor when dried. Wikipedia has an interesting cultural note "...African legend claims that basil protects against scorpions, while the English botanist Culpeper cites one "Hilarius, a French physician" as affirming it as common knowledge that smelling basil too much would breed scorpions in the brain." Well, I don't think Northern California has scorpions so the African legend won't be useful, and I've been smelling my basil a lot, and there are no symptoms of scorpions in the brain! And this is not the end of surprises for this post!

kelp noodles

Those who have been following this blog can't have missed that I'm on Phase I of the South Beach Diet. No pasta! I've gotten over the yearning for the carbs of noodles, but not with the form factor or mouth feel. Kelp noodles to the rescue! The entire 12 oz package has only 18 calories, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, and is full of trace minerals, especially iodine. These noodles also contain calcium and iron! The transparent tendrils are tasteless and take on the flavor of the broth or dressing you use. However, these are not very absorbent, so it's really the seasoning that briefly clings to the outside as you bring them to your mouth that gives the flavor.

kelp salad

Why do I include that detail? Well, if you follow the recipe here that replicates the Basil Kelp Salad I made for dinner last night, you'll think you've put in too much dressing. But it is designed that way to intensify the flavor, otherwise the salad is pretty bland. As it is, it's very light and refreshing, a perfect dish for a hot summer day. I served it with grilled halibut steak. The noodles are also "raw" food, for those trying that kind of diet.

kelp salad distance

Basil Kelp Salad

1 12 oz package kelp noodles, rinsed in cool water and drained
1 large yellow tomato, diced
1/4 cup fresh sliced basil leaves
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup walnut oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Put the first three ingredients into a bowl and toss.
2. Combine the white wine vinegar and walnut oil in a container with a leak-proof cover, and shake together to blend
3. Pour dressing over the salad, salt & pepper to taste. The dressing will look like soup in the bottom of the bowl.
4. As it is served pull the portions from the bottom first to bring more dressing with the noodles.

Next week, Weekend Herb Blogging goes back home to its founder for the round up, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. Watch Sunday afternoon for my round up of the week's herb blogging creations!

UPDATE: Simona gave such an excellent resource on seaweed that I wanted to include a working link in the body of the post to Kelp Wanted.


Vanessa Vichit-Vadakan said...

oooh, i'm going to keep an eye for those noodles. i know i would love the texture of them.

Katie Zeller said...

Kelp Noodles! How interesting! And how pretty! Not to mention the calorie count, that's gotta be good!
I love the walnut oil, I think it adds such good flavor...
BTW, your basil plant is lovely!

Anna Haight said...

Thanks Vanessa & Katie! The texture is rather crunchy, and these are quite amazing. The walnut oil does impart a great flavor, and it just picks up a little hint as things don't absorb into the noodles.

Bob said...

We have the yellow tomatoes and the basil growing in the backyard. Thanks!

Bean said...

Hi there, just saw your blog on Tastespotting and was wondering where you would find Kelp Noodles. Just wondering how many different places carry it. Thanks again for the recipe, I'll be sure to try it.

Anna Haight said...

Great Bob!

Linda, here is a link for the store locater, and if there isn't a store nearby they have a direct shipping option:

Anonymous said...

I love that picture--it's so cool and refreshing looking. It reminds me of cellophane noodles, which I dearly love.

Simona Carini said...

Wow! Very interesting. In the most recent issue of Edible East Bay there is an article about a woman who gathers sea weeds. You can download the article from this page:
After reading your post I really want to try these noodles.

Chris said...

Sounds great! Keep up the good work with your basil!

sra said...

Anna, that's a v pretty dish! I too try to be as low-carb as possible but in India, it's difficult to get such stuff. Now kelp noodles is on my list of 'imports from friendly relatives'!

Helene said...

What a fantastic idea!! I usually use this kind of noodles when Chinese cooking. I will definitely try this! :) Thanks for sharing.

Kalyn Denny said...

Anna, very creative dish for phase one! I need to look for this type of noodles. It sounds like something I'd like. Nice to know your basil-growing experiment is turning out well too.