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Friday, May 7, 2010


Basil is one of my favorite herbs to use.  It is a member of the mint family and a native of India. 

The most common use for basil is pesto sauce, but this tasty leaves can be used to flavor pasta sauces, add to salad dressings, or even use on sandwiches in place of lettuce leaves.


Thai Basil or "Siam Queen" - Culinary, ornamental. Red stems and flowers in clusters, green leaf. Very attractive. Licorice-basil aroma. Used in Thai recipes.

Sweet Italian Basil - Culinary variety. Standard, traditional green-leaf selection. Perfect for pesto or chopped fresh and sprinkled on garden-grown tomatoes with olive oil.

Italian Large Leaf Basil - Sometimes called Lettuce Leaf Basil. Produces very large leaves. One leaf can cover a slice of bread! Good basil flavor and fragrance. Excellent choice for Grilled Tomatoes with Mozzarella.

How to Grow
Basil can be grown from seed or purchased through a nursery. Plants need good soil, lots of sun and moderate watering. Mature height 18" - 24" , spaced 12 inches apart. To promote bushiness and best flavor, pinch off growing tips and blooms as they appear.

How to Freeze
Harvest a large bowl of basil leaves and remove stems. Rinse under cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Place a few handfuls of basil into a food processor and drizzle with about 3 TB extra virgin olive oil. Pulse until basil is coarsely chopped and basil is well coated with oil. Place mixture in small plastic containers and freeze.

This is a really easy sauce recipe that showcases the bright flavor of Basil.

1 cup packed basil leaves
1 clove garlic (you can help it along and give it a rough chop, if you like)
1/4 cup lemon juice (the real stuff)
3 tbls. Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Put first three ingredients in blender and mix until blended. Add the olive oil. Maybe a little more, depending on consistency. Drizzle over hot, grilled chicken or fish or even use on a salad.

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