Basil is my favorite summertime herb. It’s the perfect seasoning for hot weather veggies like peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and summer squash. No surprise it’s the most important herb in Mediterranean cooking. My family looks forward to the first batch of pesto that I make when basil is ready to harvest beginning in July. The pesto never comes out the same way twice – sometimes I use pine nuts, sometimes almonds or Parmesan cheese and other times I use the fresh goat cheese from Cherry Glen.
At the Stand
Choose fragrant, robust-looking basil. The leaves should be even-colored without any brown spots and never wilted. Genovese basil is the most common Italian kind. There are also varieties of basil that have hints of curry, lemon, thyme, even cinnamon. Thai basil has a more peppery and minty taste.
How to Store
Basil is fragile. Don’t let it hang around the fridge for long. There are two ways to store it. You can trim the stalks and stand a bunch of basil in a glass or Mason jar filled with water like a bunch of flowers. Or wrap your basil in paper towels and store it in a plastic bag.
Basil is delicious fresh or added to cooked dishes in the final stages. Basil leaves often blacken when chopped, so use whole leaves or tear them up instead. Use basil to jazz up a summer salad or pasta dish. Team basil with fresh mozzarella and juicy tomatoes for a match made in heaven.
Tastes Good With
- Almonds, especially Marcona
- Cheese, especially fresh goat and parmesan
- Pine nuts