Saturday, 15 July 2006

italian veal roll w basil

Weekend Herb Blogging provides an excuse to cook delicious meals using fresh and unique herbs and vegetables. It also provides an opportunity to use common ingredients in new and exciting ways.

Take this Australian Women’s Weekly recipe which pairs basil with a stuffed veal roast. It is a great dish for summer buffets or picnics because it can be made up to two days beforehand and is eaten cold.

The only variation I made to this recipe was to increase the garlic from one clove to three, because you can never have too much garlic.

Also, I increased the number of salami slices. You’ll probably only use around 12 slices but it’s better to have more as a backup. You can use any leftovers in a sandwich anyway.

Italian Veal Roll w Basil
Australian Women’s Weekly recipe. Serves 4 as main or 8 with buffet.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
250g pork and veal mince
½ cup grated parmigiano
¼ cup basil, chopped
¾ stale breadcrumbs (45g)
16 slices spicy salami
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, drained (35g)
1kg veal shoulder, boned
1. Preheat oven to 180'C.
2. Heat oil in pan, add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft. Cool.
3. Combine onion, mince, parmigiano, basil and breadcrumbs in medium bowl.
4. On a sheet of baking paper, arrange salami to form a 17cm by 21cm rectangle, overlapping the edges of the salami.
5. Spread the mince mixture evenly over the salami.
6. Place the sun dried tomatoes in a line along the centre of the mixture.
7. Roll up salami using paper as a guide.
8. Trim excess fat from veal. Pound veal with mallet until even thickness.
9. Place salami roll on veal, wrap veal around to enclose salami and secure with string every 3cms.
10. Place on a baking dish and bake in oven for approximately 1¼ hours or until cooked through.
11. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. When cold, cut into slices and serve.

make a roll

bake until cooked through

allow to cool, then refrigerate

carve into slices and serve

Basil is a very versatile herb. From the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) mint family, it is an annual herb in cooler climates and a perennial in warm, tropical climates.

It adapts well to many different cuisines, but I think it's most at home in Mediterranean and South-East Asian food. Of course each cuisine uses different kinds of basil, but that’s half the fun.

There are over 40 varieties of basil ranging in size, flavour and foliage and flower colour. In English speaking countries, the most commonly known and grown is Ocimum basilicum “sweet basil” which has a slightly aniseed, peppery flavour. Asian basils are said to have more of a clove-like flavour, which I have experienced to be true.

It is believed that basil originated in tropical Asia (probably India), where is has been cultivated for around 5,000 years. According to one website, in India the herb is linked to the gods Krishna and Vishnu and a leaf placed on the chest of the deceased is said to be a token to gain them entry to heaven.

From the Bible, apparently Salome hid John the Baptist’s severed head in a pot of basil!

The English word for basil came from the Greek βασιλευς (basileus), meaning “king”, and according to Wikipedia it is believed to have grown above the spot where St. Constantine and Helen discovered the Holy Cross.

Basil is used all over the world in many different cuisines. Googling it I came up with a variety of ways to use it such as deep fried basil leaves with chicken (Taiwan); fresh shredded basil in soups (China); pistou (France); and as an addition to Vietnam’s staple meal pho.

In Italy it can be blended with pinenuts to make a pesto, torn over tomato and mozzarella in a caprese salad or for a sweet option it is paired excellently with strawberries, sugar and a little balsamic vinegar.

One type of basil I have never had the fortune to try is kemangi “'Lemon basil' has a strong lemony smell and flavour, very different from those of other varieties. It is widely used in Indonesia, where it is called kemangi and served raw, together with raw cabbage, green beans, and cucumber, as an accompaniment to fried fish or duck.”

Some basil seeds even swell and take on a jelly-like form which is used in drinks in Asia. I have tried these drinks before and, although I would consider myself an adventurous eater with a very tolerant palate, I found them to taste just like dirt. Yuck! Not for me.

In medicine basil has been used for almost every ailment you can imagine, but most commonly in the West for indigestion, wounds and bruises, flatulence and water retention. In Asia it was also used for indigestion as well as ear aches, inflammation, bad breath and kidney problems.

Take a moment to check out more Weekend Herb Blogging from around the world, hosted by Kalyn at Kalyn’s Kitchen.


  1. Anna, this sounds delicious. I certainly agree with you about the garlic. Thanks for all the good information about basil - most interesting.

  2. Great recipe! I would really like to try it.

  3. herb challenge: make marjoram taste good.


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