When it's high garden season, I head for the patch on the hill where my husband, Guy, has planted our Italian garden. The four rows of basil plants swing happily in the breeze, the unmistakable peppery scent lingering in the hot summer air. I pinch off the tops of the plants to make them bushy and prevent them from going to flower. Soon I realize I have a fearful amount of basil to deal with.
Some will be made into pesto, some leaves will be packed in salt and stored in the refrigerator, and what is left over will go into my basil-flavored vinegars and oils. Other herbs such as fennel, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and chives can also be preserved this way.
3 or 4 sprigs basil per bottle
1 clove garlic, peeled, per bottle
Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Sterilized clear wine bottles and new corks
Wash and dry the basil carefully. Put 3 or 4 sprigs into each bottle. With a small knife, make a slit in the garlic cloves. Add 1 clove to each bottle. Fill the bottles with olive oil and cork the bottles.
Store the oil in the refrigerator and use within 3 weeks. Bring the oil to room temperature before using. You will have oil with a beautiful basil flavor, and the leaves stay perfectly preserved.
Note: Use Basil Oil as you would any other oil in salads. It also is wonderful for browning chicken, pork, and veal, and it is equally good tossed with fresh pasta.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1991.
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