Ahhh, the bounty and benefit of drying herbs. Its a great way to preserve the flavor of many herbs and spices without use of additives such as salt, and without expenditure of energy such as freezing. And for most recipes, especially cooked recipes, dried is adequate. Sometimes even preferred for low-moisture recipes. When leaves are properly dehydrated and stored, their flavor can enhance your meals for the winter and spring to come while you await the new herbs to come in. (<–taps foot impatiently.) I dry my herbs when I need to: during pruning, or if the dogs run over it and break a piece off, or at the end of the season if freezing will destroy the plant. Fortunately where I live most of the herbs I grow are able to live as perennials: rosemary, sage, mint, oregano, thyme, chives. That’s certainly not true for most places!
But basil doesn’t stick around. It withers at the first frost and leaves me standing slump-shouldered in the produce section looking at one tiny bundle of leaves that’s already starting to wilt and costs more than the pack of seeds I would fill my garden with in a few months. Basil is one of the few things that really makes me long for healthy food, for fresh vegetables to decorate with savory herbs and butters. To me it tastes like the first of Spring. I’ve tried to grow it indoors but have limited light so it gets weak. Or the cat gives it too much attention: knocks it off, chews the leaves. So I just try to take advantage of it while I have it, and look forward to when I can have it again.
So come this spring, I overplanted. A family of two doesn’t *really* need 15 ish basil bushes of three different varieties, but that’s OK. I’ll share.
Since I can’t reach through the internet and heap bundles of our just-beginning-to-flower basil upon you, I thought I’d post links to some of the more exceptional recipes I’ve found that allow this particular flavor to shine. Please feel free to direct me to some of your favorites as well!
Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce–fantastic sauce, delicious over pasta as well
Nectarine Pizza with Basil and Balsamic–a veritable taste explosion
Potato, Squash, and Goat Cheese Gratin–throw that basil in there.
Basil Mint Cake–you can bet I’ll be making this for my next cake.
and if all else fails, just simmer some on the stovetop with some slices of lime to make the house smell nice…just like I’m doing right now.