Friday, May 17, 2013

Weekend Gardening: Basil

    Tender stems with umbrellas of leaves..tiny blossoms all in a row. Basil is a versatile and simple herb perfect for adding flavor to a dish or attracting beneficial pollinators to your vegetable patch. On our little farmstead, basil grows alongside cucumbers or tomatoes and right alongside roses. I have never, in all my gardens, had a season without basil.
    Weeks before the last spring frost, tiny basil seeds are set in the greenhouse for a proper start. Those tiny shoots are given ample time for strengthening before heading out to warmer soils. Tucked in a sunny spot..not too direct for Texas heat, basil grows quickly and bountifully. Regular pinching encourages bushy development and vigorous leafing. Basil dries well and is quite nice frozen with a touch of oil.

    Once basil gets going in the garden it finds it's way into the kitchen quite quickly. A zesty bite tossed in a salad.. a flavorful addition to sauces, basil is excellent in pesto or layered with tomatoes and basil for a healthy treat.

Simply Pesto Flex-recipe

for every handful of fresh basil leaves you need:
3 cloves garlic
1 handful pine nuts (walnuts work well also)
1/3 cup fresh Parmesan
2 tablespoons fresh olive oil

In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic to a rough chop before adding pine nuts half at a time. Toss in the Parmesan and process while drizzling olive oil until desired texture. I like mine rather dense, so a few tablespoons is enough..use more if you like a wet pesto. 
I store mine in the fridge and use on pasta, pizza, poultry or even a salad. 
Larger batches freeze well. Place in airtight containers.

    But what types do you grow?
Spicy globe
Purple ruffle
Thi Basil

What types do you grow?

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