Thursday, August 14, 2014

Basil Propagating and Use

I always wait until the herbs and vegetable plants go on sale at our local plant nursery.  Houston has a seriously long growing season.  I’ve had tomato plants that grew tomatoes for an entire year! I end up getting some pretty leggy plants but with a little TLC they end up becoming quite healthy. 

I love love love basil!  I love making strawberry basil sorbet during the hot summer months.  A bit of strawberry, some basil and honey in the ice cream maker and there you go. Delicious! 

I purchased a deeply discounted basil plant about 3 months ago.  I’m embarrassed to say that it is still living in the original plastic cube that it came in.  It lives in the kitchen window sill and gets regular water and light but I really need to get it properly potted. I have already propagated it and it has a much larger spawn currently living in my Square Foot Garden outside.

IMG_7223 Original basil plant, trimmed a sprig off of the top, put it in water and when the roots began growing I planted it into the garden outside.







This what the sprig grew into!



Basil is very very easy to propagate.  Simply cut off a stem from the top of the plant.  You’ll want to have a sprig with about 5-6 leaves.  Cut the bottom end at an angle for the best water absorption.  Place in a small glass of water until you see quite a few white hairs of new roots.  Then plant outside in your garden or in a pot inside.  You can pretty much do this as many times as you like as long as the original plant is healthy.  When the tops of the plants start to show flower CUT them off!  When a plant is ‘going to bolt’ it’s trying to make seeds and therefore the strength of the plant is going to that purpose and NOT to growing more delicious leaves.  The flower stalks are have a lovely smell and taste are quite nice on a salad.

I have recently been introduced to jarred pesto sauce.  It is divine but since the ‘baby’ basil plant outside was so large and needed a trim I thought why not try my hand at it?



Picked about a handful of leaves and let them soak in a bowl for an hour or so.  Easier to get the dirt off of the leaves without bruising them.







The leftover leaves and flowers
were pretty left on the counter
to make the kitchen smell
good for a day or two.




  Let the leaves sit on a towel for a little while to dry off.  I may have bruised my leaves a bit but it won’t affect the taste.






Turns out pesto has pine nuts and parmesan cheese.  My kitchen, however, does not.  I came across this recipe for Pistou (Basil Pesto without Nuts).  Pistou is a French form of pesto that does not have nuts.  I didn’t use parmesan cheese because throughout the process of researching and making the pistou I decided to make it into something akin to a simmering sauce for chicken.

Here is the original recipe for Pistou:

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves (I only had one cup of basil)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (I used 1 clove)
  • About 1/4 cup quality parmesan cheese, grated (I will certainly use this next time!)
  • Splash of fresh lemon juice
  • About 1/2 cup olive oil (I used 3 tbs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a food processor or blender, chop up the garlic until it is minced.
2. Add in the basil and cheese and start to blend. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running. Blend until smooth.
3. Squeeze in a little lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Taste the sauce and adjust to your likings.
5. Put in a freezer container and freeze if you wish or use it right away.



So since I used such a small amount of basil it didn’t fill up the processor very well at all, it was kind of sad looking.  So I transferred it to the small Baby Bullet blending container.  Still, just too sad looking.  SOooooOOoOO  I added in some spinach from the fridge that about to be wilty.  Then I transferred it to the silicone freezing mold.  A few nights later Hubster used it in a pan to make chicken breasts.  It actually turned out really well!  It was a handy fragrant sauté starter.

I think if I want to make a pesto sauce next time around I’ll need to propagate a few more plants around the yard.  They are really pretty and grow really well almost anywhere.

What is YOUR favorite basil dish?


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