I have a real aversion to anything with overtones of licorice…which is why I was so excited to find a basil that had no trace of that aftertaste.
As far as I know, the only way to get it is to grow it yourself, so I haunt the early spring farmers’ markets for plants. It roots easily, so pinching off a few sprigs and putting them in a glass of water on the windowsill can turn a couple of plants into many. For the two of us, five plants is about right.
The leaves are much smaller than those on the commonest variety, so I snip them off into the food processor with a pair of scissors. The stems are purple, as are the undersides of the leaves, which have a rough texture. Because of the dark coloration, a pesto will not have the bright green you might expect from a regular pesto, but man, will it be delicious, especially if you are licorice-averse, as I am.
A platter of cherry or other small tomatoes, halved and topped with a pesto made from this basil, makes for a tasty start to a meal. Because R has an aversion to pine nuts (much like my aversion to licorice, which he loves) I make my pesto with toasted walnuts. Wendy has created a venue for us to share the ways in which we enhance our gardens’ bounty. I’ve gotten some great ideas there. You can too.