Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Little Herb Garden In Key West

After all the stress from the past two days of losing a lovely island canopy tree, I spent some time with my other garden friends, my herbs. As you all know due to space limitations here, I grow all of my herbs in containers. Actually it is pretty convenient as I can move them around so they can take advantage of sun when they need it and I can get them out of the scorching sun during these HOT afternoons. Herbs are such a big part of my cooking. Yes, there is a time and place for dried herbs, which I use abundantly, but there is nothing like fresh herbs to flavor a dish and also bring beauty to the dish. I love to use fresh herbs as a garnish as the aroma and visual affect is so pleasing to our senses. I have heard many times that you eat with your eyes first and, for me, that is true.

The first herb from my garden I would like to spotlight is my favorite, basil. I bet if you ask any cook, if they were to be put on a desert island with only one herb, their answer would be basil. Am I right? The correct botanical name for basil is Ocimum Basilicum. Ocimum is from a Greek verb that means "to be fragrant" and basil is one herb that is power packed with a fresh distinct aroma. The basil I grow mostly is "Sweet Basil". It grows 2 to 2-1/2 feet tall. Leaves are 2-3 inches long, a bit of a wrinkle to them, and are bright green. When it goes to flower, they are pretty dainty white blooms. There are many other types of basil which I have grown in the past like, lemon, purple and globe. Actually, the globe is a lovely small leaf basil that grows, just like it name says, in a globe and is very dainty looking. Still, out of the above selection, the sweet basil is my favorite.

I do not have a specific recipe to give you using fresh basil, as I have too many! But during the summer when the home grown, juicy, sweet tomatoes are in full force at the farmers market, there is nothing like eating them sliced with fresh basil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. Mouthwatering! There are so many uses for these fragrant tasteful leaves. Like I stated above, the best use is with tomatoes and tomato flavored dishes. Oh wait! We cannot leave out pasta sauces, and one of the best uses of basil is in the making of fresh pesto sauce!

OK, I could go on and on with all the dishes that I include fresh basil, but I am going to end here. Tell me, what is your favorite way to use fresh basil in your kitchen?



Belinda said...

Deb, all of your herbs are so beautiful and healthy...every bit as pretty to look at as they are lovely to cook with. :-) And the fresh, vibrant green of the basil is just beckons you to come over and pinch off a few of the gorgeous leaves and head to the kitchen!

Wendy said...

Your basil is gorgeous!
My favourite way to use it in my kitchen... Well, it's not pesto. I still haven't been able to make a version that I prefer to my store brand! Think my favourite way to use it is either to tear it into fresh tomato sauce before serving or in Jamie Oliver's Pasta Putana (bashed basil, lemon and olive oil marinate tuna before being added to melted anchovies along with fresh tomatoes - amazingly good).

Valli said...

Basil is definitely my favourite herb Deb. I love to keep a pot of it on my windowsill. I use it so often that I constantly have to replenish my stock. I am branching out and now have 2 with Thai basil. I don't have much luck on my patio to grow it. I think basil requires sunlight to grow...wink...wink...

winedeb said...

Hey Belinda, they are quite handsome!

Hi Wendy, yum, that recipe sounds great! I will have to look that one up!

Hey Valli, I am glad to hear that you can put a pot or two on your windowsill. I think they like the humidity of the kitchen and yes, some sun! Plenty of that here!