June 22, 2012

Summer is the time for Basil

There are several herbs I will not be without and Basil is one of them. The very best basil is fresh-cut straight from the garden. I grow it in containers near my backdoor so I can snip and use immediately. This year I planted Mammoth Basil and it may be my best yet. The leaves are huge! One leaf will cover a large tomato.

There is nothing quite like basil, tomatoes, fresh oregano and garlic, tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, Serve on a fresh picked leafy green lettuce for a beautiful and tasty salad. Add a little fresh dill and serve with grilled salmon.

Of course, we can't discuss basil without mentioning pesto. My favorite recipe for pesto is here on this older post.  You will find hints for drying and freezing basil there too.

I found a yummy recipe on Martha Stewart's site for Stuffed Tomatoes with Basil Garnish. Here is the link for that one.  

Basil is an annual so plant lots and dry or freeze it for winter. It loves the sun, well drained soil and not too much water. The more you pinch basil the fuller it will grow. Don't let it bloom or it will go to seed and get tough and leggy. Basil will sometimes re-seed and come back the second year - this is especially true if you plant it in a garden. Flower beds look nice with a patch of basil for color as well as texture. Purple Ruffles variety is very pretty for this use. I grow most of my basil in large containers of four or five plants each. I plant separate containers of several varieties. The one pictured is a mixed herb container with Ginger Basil and Mammoth planted together. You will see mint, creeping thyme and lemon thyme there too. This summer I am growing Mammoth, Ginger and Lemon basil in various places around my house.

Next post will be about another of my other "can't do without" herbs; Oregano!

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