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Everyone knows and loves the wonderful basil plant and its many uses, notably pesto. Pungent pesto made from fresh basil is a wonderful accompaniment to pasta, bread, and just about any other food that you can find to slather it on. But African Blue Basil amps up the flavor switch a notch. It has a licoricey” or almost an anise flavor that is hard to describe.
African blue basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilicum ’Dark Opal’) is an accidental hybrid between an East African basil that is native to Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda that is valued for its exquisite scent, and a garden variety basil called ‘Dark Opal’, known for it eggplant purple coloration.
That is why African Blue has plum undertones and speckles, and has its unique aromatic taste.
African Blue Basil is a very decorative plant and would fit right in with the craze of edible landscaping; you can eat it – plus it is beautiful! Every part of the plant is edible-stems, flowers, and leaves. In bloom, it is covered with long flower spikes of violet buds that open to lavender flowers. A regimen of nipping the flowering stalks off a basil plant is normal for any other varieties, but not African Blue. You want those flowers for garnishes. The 1- to 2 1/2-inch long leaves are a slightly grayed green hue with amethyst spattering on their undersides. The plant grows 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall and is much bushier than regular basil varieties. One rooted cutting will supply you with plenty of pesto and edible flowers all season long. Throw the edible flowers into salads for a flavor sensation. I think it looks well growing next to limey greens like the Sweet Potato Vine or intense fuchsia, like a Wave Petunia.
Cultivation(Easy as Pie!)
Plant African Blue Basil in spring when all danger of frost is gone in a sunny spot and step back and let nature take its course. It will do well in a container and behaves well with other plants. Like all basils, it likes hot, hot sun and good drainage.
Pinching off the tips of basil stems makes the plant branch out laterally. Since this basil is a sterile hybrid, you can only purchase plants, not seeds.When you bring home your young plant, you should at first pinch out its center stem to start this process. I naturally pinch it back all season long for pesto and salads so the plant gets very bushy and lush. Don’t be afraid to pinch it to avoid floppiness later.
African Blue Pesto Recipe
Place in your food processor: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup raw pine nuts, 3 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely, and 2 cups of basil leaves, stems and flowers, chopped coarsely and packed lightly into the measure. Blend well, stirring unblended bits back into the mixture and reblending as needed. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and stir in 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Add a sprinkling of grated black pepper. And sit back and enjoy this concoction on your pasta! You can keep this in the fridge with a layer of olive oil on top for a couple of weeks or freeze it. I freeze it in ice-cube containers for ease of removing throughout the winter.
- B is for Basil (gardenabcs.wordpress.com)
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- The Best Way to Keep Basil Fresh (thekitchn.com)
- Firstly, making pesto (firstlywithsara.wordpress.com)
- Kale and basil pesto (simplycalledfood.com)
- Basil Cashew Pesto (renlikesred.wordpress.com)