More Basil, Please

Basil in food processor_LAH_2355The summer is winding down and my harvest (well, except for the still-green tomatoes) is in full swing. Last month I made my first basil cuttings. Now it’s time for another one. And with any luck (and a late frost), I’ll reap one more before the plants freeze.

How do I get so much basil from just a few plants? It’s not hard—I just have to plan ahead. First, I start the plants early indoors. Second, when I pick the leaves, I make very intentional cuts in specific places. And finally, I don’t let the plants go to seed. Let’s look at each of these points more closely.

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Two Pestos You’ll Love

Basil @DBG LAH 175Summer is ending. For the past month, my potted basil plants have been doing their best to flower. I know that if I let them go to seed, they would die, so I’ve been pinching off the buds. However, now our nights are dipping into the 40s—too cold for these tropical annuals. Even if they don’t freeze, the chill turns the leaves black—not very appetizing. I’ve hauled the plants inside, but I can’t postpone the inevitable. It’s time to make pesto.

There’s no aroma quite like that of freshly made pesto, and that’s exactly what my kitchen smells like right now. I have two favorite pesto recipes, and I’d like to share them with you so your kitchen can smell this amazing too.

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Bountiful Basil

Colorado State Univ. Field DayThe overpowering aroma of basil fills my kitchen. A huge pile of green leaves and stems occupies the counter, next to a bottle of olive oil, several heads of garlic, and a mound of grated Parmesan cheese. It’s pesto time.

I enjoy using basil all year long, but I’ve had bad luck growing plants indoors during the winter. White flies, mealy bugs, and other pests agree that this mint family member is delicious. I’ve finally come to realize I have to do my growing during the summer, but I can still enjoy basil’s fresh flavor in the middle of February.

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