I have always heard that tomatoes and Basil go together. Basil brings out the taste of a tomato. After hearing this for years I grew planted my first basil plant and gave it a try. I was hooked. There is always basil in my gardens.
Basil is an herb that originally came from India. It likes warmer weather and does not over-winter outside in cooler climates like mine. Its growing habits remind me somewhat of a tomato. It does not like frosts or cold nights and really doesn’t grow well until the nights are warmer.
When basil decides to grow it really takes off. I pinch it to make it fuller and keep the plant bushy. I use what I pinched as seasonings. You can dry it or use it fresh.
Many people make a pesto sauce out of it. Below is a basic recipe:
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 cup Olive oil
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Place basil leaves in small batches in food processor and whip until well chopped (do about 3/4 cup at a time). Add about 1/3 the nuts and garlic, blend again.
Add about 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese; blend while slowly adding about 1/3 of the olive oil, stopping to scrape down sides of container. Process basil pesto it forms a thick smooth paste. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Mix all batches together well. Serve over pasta. Basil pestos keeps in the refrigerator one week, or freeze it for a few months.
Here is another recipe:
—A Recipe for Aromatic Seasoning—
‘Take of nutmegs and mace one ounce each, of cloves and peppercorns two ounces of each, one ounce of dried bay-leaves, three ounces of basil, the same of marjoram, two ounces of winter savory, and three ounces of thyme, half an ounce of cayenne-pepper, the same of grated lemon-peel, and two cloves of garlic; all these ingredients must be well pulverized in a mortar and sifted through a fine wire sieve, and put away in dry corked bottles for use.’ (Francatelli’s Cook’s Guide.)
The Basil Plant
I grow basil by my tomatoes and in my flower gardens. I like the look of it mixed in with other plants, especially flowers. It enhances the color of the flowers. I even use it in flower arrangements.
There are two kinds of basil. One has a dark purple leaf and is beautiful and makes a great accent plant. The others have green leaves. There is also lime basil that has a bit of a lime taste to it and I really like this with fish and in a salad.
Basil is a fun plant that grows well, is pest resistant and if you pinch it and put it in water it will root easily. This is how I keep a fresh basil supply in my cool climate in the winter. I also start enough plants that I have hardy transplants to set out in the spring.