Basil, Sweet Sweet Basil


I love this time of year, with all the fresh produce!  Nothing tastes better than fruits and veggies from your garden or the local farmers market.  Everything is juicier, plumper, more colorful.  Basil is no exception.  The leaves seem to be a brighter green and are larger.  Basil is fairly easy to grow and prefers the full sun with evenly moist, well-drained soil.  It will grow just  as well either in a garden or in a planter or pot.  Basil is also just as happy outside as in a sunny windowsill.  Most basils grow 18-24″ tall and can be fairly bushy when the leaves are pinched for use.  Pinch flowers when they begin to form to keep the plants compact and to concentrate the flavor in the leaves.  You can create your own air freshener by crushing the tiny white flowers and placing them in a bowl.  Eating alfresco?  Put a glass or jar of basil on the table to help ward off mosquitoes – it turns out basil is a natural bug repellent!  Finally, be sure your knife is nice and sharp before chopping basil, it turns black quickly when chopped with a dull knife.

Wondering what to do with your basil that will get you some attention?  Here are some unusual ideas:  How about patriotic mojitos for the 4th of July – muddle basil, sugar and lime juice, then add rum, seltzer, blueberries and raspberries; Maybe  a fancy grilled cheese for dinner – layer fontina, sliced plums and basil on crusty bread, then cook in butter.   Or how about snacking on popcorn tossed with dried basil, parmesan, and salt?  If you are more brave then I am, you can skip your morning coffee (Ha!) and have iced tea instead, just add a sprig of basil to the glass for extra zing.  Ok, you could also have that at lunch and not need to skip your coffee at all.

Throughout the month of July I’ll be trying some basil recipes and the success will certainly get shared!

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