You know that I love winter, don’t you? I know. Crazy. Nevertheless, I do. Maybe one of the reasons is that I’m very blessed with sunshine that spills in through my windows even during the wintry months. However, the one thing I do miss in the winter are fresh herbs from my herb garden. I enjoy using dried dill in the winter months – it adds such a touch of freshness to fish, potatoes, vegetables! There is one fresh herb I do truly miss in the winter – basil! Basil is just wonderful on pasta, chicken…and pizza. I confess that one of my favorite things is a big cheese pizza, basil (chiffonade or just layer whole leaves on the pizza), and top the baked pizza with a drizzle of olive oil and pepper flakes!! So yummy! It’s a mouthful of spring!
Each spring we start a healthy young basil plant in the front herb gardens and they become prolific and so delicious smelling. Just walking past them and ruffling the leaves gives such a distinct scent to my hands and the air. I use it so much in my spring and summer cooking, and there are times I really miss its freshness and vibrancy in the wintry months.
The last couple of times we were visiting my mom’s I noticed that perched in her sunny window above the sink she had a small glass full of basil cuttings that were rooting! I found it remarkable, and she commented that just before the last frost she couldn’t bear to see all the basil go so she took a few cuttings and put it in a glass. Not long afterward, she noticed it had rooted in her glass.
Inspired, I decided to do the same. I had one small problem — it is well past our first frost here — all my basil is long gone! Then I remembered that you can usually pick up snippings of fresh basil in the local grocery store…and that’s just what I did! I picked up a couple of small plastic packages of sweet smelling basil at the market this weekend.
Hopeful, I trimmed the bottom leaves from the bottom of the stems, gave the entire collection of leaves and stems a rinse, and dropped the stems in a vase. While making dinner I noticed that they were altogether bedraggled looking, their leaves limply hanging over each other and the side of the vase in a wet blob of green. sigh. I wondered if trimming the very ends of the stems would assist the little plants in drinking water. I trimmed about 1/4″ from the end of each stem and within an hour they were looking perkier. By the next morning, the vase looked and smelled beautiful with a bouquet of basil!
Spring on my kitchen counter!
So, next autumn, as you’re thinking of tucking your gardens in for the winter, take a few cuttings of basil to over-winter on your counter. What a delight!
Lunch today — spring on a sandwich — basil with sprout and avocado sandwiches drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar!
Edited to say…change of lunch plans…I didn’t realize I had a smackerel of bruschetta left from making chicken bruschetta the other night…so….my delectable lunch was bruschetta atop angel hair pasta! Look how yummy!