We just recently got in some pots of fresh, organic basil! This is perfect timing, since Michigan tomatoes are not far behind and the two are perfect culinary partners. It has been brought to our attention that while most people enjoy fresh herbs, they can be a little intimidating to use. So we’re going to share some basic tips that may make basil ownership a bit less daunting, as well as a few common uses.
First we’ll cover how to care for a basil plant. They are sun loving and the soil should be kept damp, but not too wet. If the plant gets too much water, it may show distress by the bottom leaves turning yellow. If it’s getting too little water, the leaves will start to look wrinkled and limp. Just give it a good dose of water and it should return back to normal. If you purchase the plant from us, you can either leave it in the pot and place it in a sunny window, or plant it outside. Basil does not like cold weather, so avoid cold air vents and, if you plant it outside, know that it won’t last through the first frost. Your plant will start to grow some flowers, and you’ll want to pinch those off. Once the plant grows flowers it will stop growing leaves, so removing the flowers will encourage your plant to continue growing.
Now for the exciting part – including it in your dishes! When you’re ready to use them, just pick a few leaves, rinse them off, and pat them dry. Brandy likes to lay them on top of each other and cut them all at once. You can cut them into thin strips or small pieces, whichever you prefer. Don’t use the stem, just the leaves. If you are having pizza delivered, or opening up a can of tomato soup, chop some up and sprinkle it on top. If you’re making a tomato sauce, for something like spaghetti, add about 1 tablespoon. We’ll share with you Brandy’s favorite way to use fresh basil – she likes to cut it into smaller pieces and mix with chopped mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh cracked pepper, salt, and a little olive oil. She will then serve the dish as a side, as a topping for French bread (brushetta style), or will use it to fill portabella mushroom caps to go on the grill or in the oven.
The nice thing about the basil plant is that the more often you pick leaves the more the plant is encouraged to grow. So stop in and pick up a plant to take home and discover for yourself how great fresh basil is!