Tips for Basil

June 27, 2016

My basil is gorgeous this year, and over time I’ve learned a few tricks to keep it growing and looking lush.

1) I keep it covered in the garden with row covering that keeps bugs out and lets sunshine and rain in.

2) When I harvest it, I have a bucket of water ready to place it in because it wilts fast

3) In the kitchen, keep it on your counter in a container of water that is lukewarm and add a little sugar to the water; helps the plant stay bright and not limp

4) Never keep basil in the refrigerator; it hates cold and the leaves will wilt.

5) After swishing the leaves in water to wash them; dry them well; leaving water on basil leaves for too long often turns the leaves black

6) If you have a lot of basil, make pesto now and freeze it for future use. I freeze pesto right in glass jars.

Pesto’s slightly peppery flavor marries well with many foods including fresh cooked corn. So step out of the traditional butter and salt flavoring for summer corn and give pesto a try. Use half of the prepared recipe below to dress a dozen ears of corn. Left over pesto can be refrigerated for future use.

Pesto Sauce
Makes 2 cups

1/4-cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1-teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 ½ cups packed fresh-stemmed basil leaves
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus extra if needed

Place the pine nuts, garlic, cheese, and coarse salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse two or three times. Add the basil leaves and pulse two times. With the motor running, pour the olive oil a little at a time through the feed tube and continue processing until a smooth sauce consistency is obtained. You may not need all the oil. Transfer to a jar.

For a dozen ears of corn, heat 1 cup of pesto sauce in a small saucepan. Brush cooked ears with pesto. Serve.

Recipe from Ciao Italia Family Classics by Mary Ann Esposito

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