Friday, 2 June 2006
WHB#35: basil (Ocimum basilicum)
(click on image for larger view of of basil in the garden)
The other day, I was admiring our newly transplanted planted basil and wishing it would grow faster. Then I remembered that we still have some of last year’s pesto in the freezer! How perfect was that? We could have our
cake pesto and eat it too!
It was a beautiful day so we decided to grill some porkchops and serve spaghettini with pesto as a sidedish. We often use pecans in our basil pesto but this time we had a hankering for pinenuts. Whole pinenuts. Not pulverized beyond recognition. So they will lend their crunchy texture to the pasta as well as that they can be tasted and savoured properly.
As the pesto cubes thawed (they really take no time at all), T tossed some pinenuts and chopped garlic in olive oil until the pinenuts and garlic were just golden. He then added the basil mixture. (Here is our basil pesto recipe.)
(click on image more photos of basil pesto)
Then he quickly grilled some porkchops as I set the table and prepared the basil garnish and sugarsnap peas (notice how I hardly had to do any work at all?? )
Basil is an annual (has to be planted every year) that likes lots of sun and warmth. Night temperatures shouldn’t go much below 10C. Water daily when it is hot. Pinch flowers off to encourage more leaf growth, otherwise the plant will go to seed.
I plant Genovese, Dark Opal (Ocimum bacilicum ‘Purpurascens’ …other years it has been Ocimum bacilicum ‘Purple Ruffles’), and Thai (Ocimum ‘Siam Queen’) basil in pots on our patio. (one plant per 8 inch pot) The leaves and flowers have an intense flavour; a little goes a long way. Genovese and Opal taste roughly the same and both are fine for pesto. Thai basil is slightly milder in taste that the others and makes a good garnish. Basil is excellent with grilled meats, Asian food, on pizza or in pesto.
I have also grown cinnamon basil in the past. The flowers definitely have a scent reminscent of cinnamon but otherwise, it is pretty much just like Genovese, though perhaps a little rougher tasting. It works perfectly well in pesto though.
We use leaves and flowers for garnishes throughout the summer season. In early autumn, I cut the stalks and either make pesto from the leaves of Genovese and Purple basils or hang the stalks upside down to dry. As required, we crush dried leaves onto pizza or into tomato sauce throughout the winter. Our air-dried basil is far superior to storebought dried basil. It actually smells like basil…
If you cannot grow basil in your garden, starting around the end of August, many of the vegetable stores sell basil in large bunches. If you like to use dried basil in your cooking, it’s worthwhile to buy a couple of bunches and dry them in your kitchen. Cheaper in the long run too!!
edit 5 June 2006 @ 07:59 EDT: … read the
Weekend Herb Blogging #35 Recap (includes information about ‘The Green Blog Project’)