I love all of the fresh summer herbs. I love their different flavors, textures, and aromas. I love their beauty, and their versatility. My FAVORITE (without a doubt) is BASIL!
I especially love basil because it reminds me of my grandparents during the hot days of summer, as I envision my grandfather in his garden. As he picked the fresh basil and invited me to take in the aroma, basil infused his garden with all of those plump, ruby red, hot-from-the-sun, ripened tomatoes. He picked his basil, garlic, and tomatoes by the bushels and delivered them to my grandmother! She, (and with some help from the family) in turn, would put out dozens of jars of fresh canned tomatoes for pasta sauces. It was culinary class in the making!
BASIL is an annual herb to be planted each year. Plant the purple variety (dark opal) for its beauty, as well as the familiar sweet green basil. Both varieties have the same sweet flavor, although differ in appearance. Other varieties include: anise basil, cinnamon basil, lemon basil, and holy basil. Note that holy basil is rarely eaten raw, as it is quite pungent. As with all things living, each has its place. Plant extra bumper crops of basil for pesto sauces, add to fresh canned tomatoes at harvest, include in your salads, pastas, grilling, meat rubs, and, at the end of the season, seeds for the following year. SOW and REAP this fragrant herb.
Planting basil intensifies the flavor of vegetables, especially tomatoes and lettuces. Basil, as well as Marigolds, are “garden helpers.” They discourage diseases in plants, and repel insects and small animals.
Today, as I go out to my own herb garden, I take in the sweet basil aroma, see and hear my grandparents, and revisit my childhood culinary lessons. The tomato and pesto sauces, and all ingredients that contain basil, now take on ‘soul’ as the sauces are not only nourishing and satisfying to the palate, but hold my own ‘soulful’ memories within…