Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beguiling Basil !

Wild Basil
Genovese-type "Emily"
Oriental Breeze
African Blue Basil

It seems basils season has hit its' stride.
Restaurants are ordering basil like crazy right now to make up lots of wonderful summery pesto for use later in the season. And that's good. I have lots.
I am growing 4 varieties this year. One is really not particularly edible- the Wild Basil. It's taste is more reminiscent of grass. But that's okay. The flowers are pretty.
The other 3 though, are yummy, each having some unique qualities. I must say, it is hard to determine what to grow. There are SO many fabulous basils out there. But I did whittle it down to 3.
I always like to have a large leaved Genovese type, which is great for pesto. I selected "Emily" for the simple reason it is my eldest daughters' name. It has proven itself, pumping out good large leaves for my own pesto.
Second I am growing for the first time a variety called Oriental Breeze. It is a Fleuroselect winner for its' showy flower heads, but does have a very strong wonderful taste and scent, and is a rapid grower. I would certainly grow it again. The only problem is we are eating and using it so much I haven't given the flower heads a chance to appear. Must do that.
Perhaps my favourite is African Blue. This variety is propagated by cuttings, and is one that I have overwintered successfully by bringing it in in the fall, and taking my cuttings off the mother plant in late winter.
It is stunning visually, with purple markings on the underside of the leaves and it has a very strong camphor taste. I love it! Certainly worth putting on your must-grow list.
And now a pesto recipe!

Basil Pesto

2 cups basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium size cloves of garlic
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
1/2 cup good quality parmesan cheese, grated

I use a Vitamix to grind and blend mine, but any kitchen machine will do.
Add all dry ingredients, drizzle in olive oil and blend well.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Keeps in fridge for a week or so, or freeze for a winter treat.


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