Grow Your Own Basil and Make Delicious Pesto With It!
Growing basil and a delicious pesto recipe
Basil is easy to grow and a very forgiving plant. it can grown either from seed or from cuttings as well. If propagating from seed, place the seeds in a container/pot of cocopeat ( coconut coir) or in a mud mix ( equal parts of compost and mud) which has been wet and cover the seeds with the respective medium. The container/pot can be covered with a shower cap to ensure that humidity conditions are maintained to optimize the germination process. As soon as the seeds begin to sprout, remove the shower cap. this should take around a week or so. Ensure that the medium is moist at all times but not soaking wet.
If propagating from a cutting, there are 2 methods. One is to place the cutting in a glass of water in a sunny spot and keep changing the water till roots begin to sprout, after which you can place it in the soil. The other method for lazy people like me is to take a cutting and insert it directly into the soil, but ensure that at least one set of nodes is below the soil. Water you plant regularly and you will soon see that it has taken root.
Make sure to keep your plant in a position where it receives adequate amount of sunlight and you're ensured to have a perennial supply of Basil. This plant also loves to be harvested, so make sure that you take off the top leaves every 3-4 days and also prevent the plant from flowering as this results in the stem becoming woody and the growth of the plant comes to a halt.
The leaves can be regularly harvested and used in a variety of dishes. Pesto is one of my favourites and is really easy to make.
If you have harvested your leaves but don't have the time to make anything with them on the day, you can tear up the leaves and put them in a jar, add a pinch of salt, some nuts(almonds/walnuts/pine nuts) a few cloves of garlic, (1 clove for a handful of basil) cover the leaves with olive oil and place the bottle in the fridge. You can either use this rustic pesto as it is, with a grating of cheese over the top or you could blitz it as and when required.
For a standard Pesto recipe:
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup nuts( almonds/walnuts/pine nuts)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
I find pesto to be a little bland so to this I add some cayenne pepper for a little kick and some oregano as well or an Italian seasoning mix that's at hand.
This pairs deliciously well with pasta, but I love to have it with prawns as well and have even tried it as an alternative to marinara sauce on a pizza base!
So go ahead.Be bold. Go organic. Grow your own herbs and create some culinary delicacies.