Herb of the Month “Basil”

What I look like
Basil grows between 6″- 2½’ tall, and has light green, silky leaves. The flowers are small and are generally white or purple in color, depending on the variety.

How I Grow
Basil is very sensitive to cold, it grows best in hot, dry conditions. It behaves as an annual but will generally reseed itself.  Basil can be sown in soil once the chance of frost is past. It fares best in a well-drained sunny spot. Although basil grows best outdoors, it can be grown indoors in a container.

What I’m Used For
Basil is a very diverse herb.  Most of us are quite familiar with its culinary uses in Italian cuisine but it also has medicinal properties.  In the past centuries, basil was believed to have healing potential and was used to purify the mind and open the heart and even cure malaria.  Today it is recognized as a treatment for intestinal problems such as motion sickness, nausea, and flatulence.


Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil
Makes 24 small slices.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1½ lbs)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 baguette French or Italian bread
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Prepare the tomatoes first. Parboil the tomatoes for one minute in boiling water that has just been removed from the burner. Drain. , remove the skins of the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are peeled, cut them in halves or quarters and remove the seeds and juice from their centers. Also cut out and discard the stem area.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F
  3. Chop up the tomatoes finely. Put tomatoes, garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add the chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Slice the baguette and coat one side of each slice with olive oil. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down.  Once the oven has reached 450°F, place a tray of bread slices in the oven on the top rack. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.  Spoon tomato mixture over toasted baguette then top with mozzarella cheese and heat till melted.
  5. If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do so right before serving or the bread may get soggy. Enjoy!

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