Of all the annual herbs to plant, Basil Is Summer's Loudest Member of the Garden and a delicious one at that.Jump to Recipe
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Fresh basil from the garden lifts any tomato dish straight into the ‘Now That’s Italian’ category.
Basil - Summer's Loudest Member of the Garden. It's why I am obsessed with making sure every variety I can get my hands on is planted in my garden. The rewards of growing - AND EATING - basil are never ending. I was forced into what my local box store had left on a Sunday afternoon after a busy weekend last spring. Taking advantage of the dent and scratch price, I purchased two very beat up looking rat-a-tat containers of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), and two of a beautiful purple basil (Ocimum basilicum 'Purpurescens’). I planted them in a square pot filled with a combination of mushroom compost and potting soil and set it among my rose bushes for a minimal amount of shade so the pot would not dry out so quickly.
The plants took off and before a couple of weeks had gone by, I had a stealthy little crop of colorful and bright leaves ready for picking. I seized the opportunity to prune them back a bit during my initial harvest, which encourages the plants to produce new leafy branches. Any flower spikes I quickly snipped from the plant and tossed right back into the pot, which once dried, re-seeded into new additional plants. Now I have a basil forest which I am quite proud of mind you!
For other great recipes which make fantastic use of fresh basil, including basil pesto, consider
Out of all the annual herbs, Basil is probably the one that screams “Summer” the loudest.
I’ve read where the rule of thumb is to plant three plants per person for harvesting throughout the plants season, which for us here in Charleston lasts until late October. Since it’s just me, my humble little pot of four plants would suffice, and still I find myself bagging cuttings that I am offering to my family and to my neighbors in an effort not to waste all that summer goodness.
A 2pm snacky-snack ready to take outside and enjoy in my garden – who wouldn’t relish this?
I am fortunate to have a Trader Joe’s in my town, and if you are a Trader Joe’s fan as I am, you know that you can purchase high quality, fresh ingredients for on the cheap. If you have a TJs available to you, I highly recommend trying their fresh Burrata, a cream filled mozzarella ball that is positively luscious. Trader Joes Marinated Feta is also out of this world. It pairs beautifully with basil.
A Recipe For A Basil, Tomato, and Burrata Salad
Below is a “taste” of my initial basil harvest. I used a little more of the sweet basil for this snacky-snack, as the purple was still slightly on the smallish size when I was making my cuttings. A 2pm snacky-snack in the garden with a glass of chilled Rose; ahhh, yup!
Begin by removing a Burrata from the brine, and let drain on a paper towel. You’ll want to make sure it is relatively dry for plating.
Chiffonade your basil or leave it whole. I prefer to eat mine as a salad and leave it whole. To chiffonade, pile all of the leaves on top of one another and roll them like a cigar. With a sharp knife, cut thin, clean strips from the "cigar." Using your fingers, gently pull apart and toss the strips to separate.
A healthy drizzle of a high quality olive oil will be enough to finish this salad. I also sometimes use it as my base beneath the salad to avoid drowning my ingredients. Preserving the visual is important if say serving this salad as an appetizer for guests.
Using both thumbs, gently break into your Burrata ball and open like you would an egg. Expose all of the luscious cream filling. Center right down on your olive oil drizzle and begin to dot with halved Campari or cherry tomatoes. Rough chop into large segments if using plum or heirloom tomatoes.
To finish, arrange the basil leaves around and atop the beautiful Burrata and drizzle once again with olive oil and a minor pinch of a flakey sea salt. I am using Malden. Finish with Balsamic glaze if you choose to use. I generally set glaze out in a small decanter tableside for those wishing to use it. Now, you could scrap the glaze and go straight Balsamic vinegar if you have it in the cupboard. It’s definitely more authentic, but I am less in love with the straight vinegar for this dish than I am the glaze.
Did you know that it’s super easy to print out a version of a half recipe or even a double recipe on Not Entirely Average? Hover over the serving size (highlighted in blue, it says 2 on this recipe) and then slide the the white line to the left to make less or to the right to make more. This "calculator" allows you to play until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.
Ingredients for Basil, Tomato, and Burrata Salad
- 1 ball Burrata fresh, removed from brine and dried carefully with paper toweling
- 1 cup basil whole, fresh leaves
- 1/2 cup tomatoes Campari or cherry tomatoes, halved
- drizzle olive oil to taste, I am using Thea
- Malden salt to taste
- drizzle Balsamic glaze to taste
- Arrange Burrata, basil and tomatoes on a plate. Drizzle with both olive oil and Balsamic glaze and dust with just a pinch of flakey sea salt. To serve as a lunch, add crusty bread.