sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum)

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Time posted: May 8, 2005

No herb garden can do without this plant. Even when I didn’t have a garden, I managed to plant some basil in a container and always have fresh sweet basil for my Italian cooking. When I did have a garden, pesto was a great way to make use of any extra basil you may produce.

So I put in three plants this year. Nothing fancy, no purple ones or anything, just the great-tasting green stuff. The more you harvest from you basil, the more you encourage growth. It’s a situation where you can’t lose. I thought my plants had a little too much foliage for their underdeveloped root sytems to support. So I applied the following easy fix:

Place 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan, and heat to medium-high. Mince three to five cloves of garlic and sautee in the oil briefly. Add one can of chickpeas, drained. Add a pinch of salt. Once the chickpeas are warmed through, add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and let it soak in for a few minutes. Then add a can or bottle of pureed Roma tomatoes. Simmer for half an hour or so, and serve over pasta of your choice with fresh basil leaves and grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese.

You shouldn’t have overgrown basil plants if you follow the above advice.

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