My love affair with Basil…


This summer, I’ve been buying it potted and leaving it on the kitchen counter. Definitely lasts longer than buying by the bunch and ooooh…. what a delicious waft of fragrance when a few leaves are picked!

Lucky enough to have the fresh basil at my elbow, I’ve been experimenting and finding it has an affinity in many dishes. Grill-roasted corn with basil butter? Heavenly! A few leaves on top of almost any salad, esp one with tomatoes.. an instant flavour boost!

 

My absolute favourite use of basil is in Pesto Genovese. I’ve made it countless times over the years and always with anticipation of biting through the spirally forkful of perfectly al dente linguine, covered with the sauce. Other pasta shapes work, of course, but for me, linguine is essential here~

 

I’ve also had the great fortune of eating fresh pesto in Italy, just south of Genoa in Riomaggiore, the southernmost village in the Cinque Terre. (Some say Genoa is where it was first made….) When basil is in season, most every market in Italy stocks fresh pesto. I can still picture the vivid green of it, biding it’s time in the refrigerator section. If only I could get some now…. 

So back to the Cinque Terre… armed with fresh pesto, pasta, tomatoes, zucchini, some local white wine bought for less than 2 euro/bottle (how bad could it be, we thought..??) salami and some prosciutto so buttery and soft it melted on your tongue, we made the trek from the village’s only market, back up to our lodging.

“Climb up to the top of the hill, and turn left at the castle” were the instructions we gave to our new friends, who were joining us for an al fresco dinner. We just happened to have access to this huge patio, with a truly outstanding view….

 

In the Italian way of cooking the ingredients were not fussed with. A platter of prosciutto, salami, sliced tomatoes drizzled with a local lemon olive oil, and zucchini lightly grilled…. some Prosecco (a kind offering from our companions!) all made a fantastic-o first course. The second was pasta with the lovely fresh pesto Genovese. Soooo good. Vibrant. Green. Sigh. For dessert? I can’t recall what we’d picked up, but I can tell you that the wine for less than 2 euro was so good; we had to go back for more~