Those long-awaited days where warm weather specific foods like ripe, juicy tomatoes and sweet, snappy corn are finally knocking on our market's doors. While fall and winter produce can certainly be satiating, the summer sun sparks a short window of time for bright, flavorful gems ripe for the picking to energize our taste buds on a whole different level. One of these brilliant June offerings is an herb that's as beautiful and vibrant sprouting in a garden as it is plated and consumed.
Opal basil is a deep burgundy, leafy herb that's a hybrid of the more recognizably-green version. The shiny leaves of the opal basil have a more pungent, herbaceous taste to them similar to fresh ginger root or licorice, and the deep purple tones can also be used for either food-based or textile dyes. This unique basil lends a gorgeous pop of vibrant color to salads, pastas, or minced into more flavorful pestos and garnishes. Another reason to hand pick these leaves, aside from their unique and intense flavors, is the anti-inflammatory properties packed into the plant's vitamins and minerals. Wow your next dinner guests by serving lemon sorbet with a sprig of opal basil for edible decoration, or create a stunning purple pesto as a compliment to fingerling potatoes or grilled salmon.
We love this recipe for opal basil pesto, prepared by Gardener's Supply Company. Bon Appétit!