Basil is a very easy herb to grow and has a slightly spicy taste. There are various flavors and varieties to choose from. Below are some facts about the herb that you may or may have not known:
- Basil is part of the mint family.
- There are 40 different varieties of basil. Some of the flavors of basil are cinnamon, lemon, and anise.
- Basil is native to India and Asia where it can be grown as a perennial since it is so warm. In America basil is more of an annual unless you grow it inside, of course.
- Basil is recommended by some herbalists to treat headaches, anxiety, and stomach ailments.
Yesterday I made a batch of basil pesto for our family and for my neighbor. I used the deep green variety which is the most popular sold in stores. I just went right out onto my porch and cut some. Next time I'm going to have to get a picture of the harvesting process. Just make sure if you are harvesting your own basil to wash it gently so you won't bruise the leaves. Then put them in a paper towel and dab them gently to remove most of the water. Here is the recipe. I don't remember where I got it so I can't give credit. :-( Enjoy!
Basil Pesto -- enough for two pounds of pasta
4 c. packed fresh basil leaves
1 c. fresh Parmesan cheese (Do not use the icky powder kind. It won't work in this recipe.)
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts (You can toast them by putting the nuts in a small pan on medium heat stirring often until they turn light brown. Be careful because they can get dark VERY fast--take it from a former pine nut pyromaniac.)
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor except for the olive oil until chopped up well. Then, while processor is running on lowest setting gradually add the olive oil. You can then add salt and pepper to taste by stirring them into the mixture.
Most people eat pesto as a sauce on pasta. I've used it as the sauce on a pizza with sliced garlic cloves, sundried tomatoes and mozzarella. Speaking of sundried tomatoes--I can't WAIT until I can start harvesting my tomatoes. I'll have a recipe of how to sundry your own tomatoes!