The most loved herb of summer, basil adds a bit of magic to just about every kind of dish from appetizer to salad to dessert. The best thing is that Basil can be easily grown indoors in the winter. It is a member of the mint family and can add a special flavor to many dishes.
How To Chop Basil....what in the world is a chiffonade?
This is a great video on how to cut basil from the plant and then chop it so you don't bruise it.
Everyone knows about Pesto but many of you haven't tried it. Be brave and give it a try. Toss it with pasta, spread it on sandwiches, or dollop it into soup. There's just no end to the versatility of the Italian condiment called pesto. A mixture of fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese, this simple spread can be whipped up in 10 minutes.
The Food Network had this great article 50 Things to Make with Pesto with the above picture. Now you give it a try.
Basil Is More Than Pesto
Basil is most famously added with Tomatoes and Mozzarella Cheese. In fact you can just slice tomatoes and alternate them with sliced Mozzarella Cheese to a platter, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and sprinkle with chopped Basil.
Try this great fish recipe: Baked Tilapia with Tomato and Basil The recipe link includes some great 'how to videos'.
I personally loved OLD FASHIONED LIVING's page on Basil. Go there for tips on growing and using Basil.
Finally, it's time to preserve some basil. True to my prediction we are threatening a frost tonight here in Nebraska already. A bit early as I thought might happen. The weather has been weird to say the least. Basil is a tender perinal and needs to be protected from the cold.
There are several ways to preserve Basil for the winter months. First of all, PESTO can be made and frozen in small containers.
Life On the Balcony offered THREE WAYS TO PRESERVE BASIL which offered the three basic options.
I liked the Simply Canning site's complete instructions on freezing basil complete with the above picture
If you just can't stand the thought of not having fresh Basil in the winter here's a way to take a piece of your Basil plant and root it to grow indoors in the winter.
Container grown basil does have some special needs over that grown in the garden.
- Use well-drained, nutrient rich potting soil and check the pH every four to six weeks. Although basil isn't fussy about soil composition, it will grow best in a soil with about a 6.0 to 7.5 pH. Maintain pH with a good organic fertilizer at about half the recommended strength on the label.
- Keep the earth moist, but not soggy. After watering, drain excess water from the plant saucer.
- If a sunny window isn't available, grow your basil under artificial lighting. Ten to twelve hours a day under a fluorescent shop fixture is an economical way to provide your plants with the light requirements they need.