Friday, September 21, 2012

Basil Basics – September 21, 2012

I grow basil every year and I especially like to grow the purple kind.  It doesn’t taste any different, but it is really pretty on pizza, tarts and salads.  My favorite is orange salad,but we often make Caprese salad as well when we have lots of tomatoes.  Here are both simple, fresh recipes:

Caprese Salad

Sliced fresh tomatoes
Sliced fresh mozzarella
Basil leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Layer the first three ingredients.  Drizzle olive oil on top with a little salt and enjoy.

Orange and Basil Salad

Navel oranges separated in sections
Fresh basil leaves (looks great with purple basil)
Red onion or radish rings

Dressing #1 -
Olive Oil
Pinch sugar
Salt and pepper

Dressing #2 –
1 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp. Lime Juice
1 T. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper

Mix and enjoy!

The great thing about basil is that the more you use it, the more it produces, so even if you aren’t using it, pinch off the flowers as they develop so new leaves start.  Most years, I cut back at least one plant and bring it in for the winter before replanting in the Spring, but basil is easy to find as small plants in the Farmer’s Market and can be grown from seed if you start early enough.

I also store basil by pulling off the leaves and keeping them in a zip lock bag in my freezer during the winter.  If you prefer, you can make pesto and pour into ice cube trays.  Then, just pop these cubes into a zip lock bag and defrost as you need for recipes.

My friend Becki Winchel also has a great use for basil I had never heard of before.  You steep the leaves in boiling water like a tea.  Then, when cooled, put in a spray bottle and spray around your kitchen for a safe way to keep fruit flies from gathering.  I have to try this because we are eat up with fruit flies this year!!!!

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