As you see, it is not like your normal Basil.
Basil usually looks like this:
The leaves are larger and spaced further apart than on Greek Basil. In fact, a Greek Basil plant looks more like a small shrub than an herb. So it is unsurprising, then, that it is sometimes referred to as Bush Basil, and the fact is, the more you use it and cut it back the bushier it can get. It tastes just like normal Basil, but the small leaves are very tender.
I used a bit of Greek Basil tonight, in fact. My mother (who, in the absence of any other entry, wins Name This Food! by default as she knew what it was but did not say) has a pot of it on the windowsill next to my pot of regular Basil.
Tonight was spaghetti night.
I made the sauce I usually make, which is based on my Mum's spag bolo recipe which was taught to her by a friend of a friend many years ago and is delicious.
In Mum's version, she starts by browning some minced beef (that's ground beef for you Colonials) in a pan. Once browned, but not cooked to death, she drains off the fat from the beef and replaces it with a healthy glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Back on the stove it goes, and in goes a chopped medium-to-large onion, and when that's started to get translucent, in goes some chopped mushrooms, a can of condensed tomato soup (Campbell's is the best) and a few sploshes of Worcestershire Sauce. Add enough water to make it wet but not soupy and simmer for about half an hour.
In my version, I not only use onion but a few cloves of garlic, finely chopped. Along with the soup goes in a small can of diced tomatoes, a sprinkle of dried oregano or two, and I used a few small sprigs of Greek Basil in there for good measure. I then served the whole shebang on top of spaghetti, adding shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and some chiffonade of Basil.
|'...oh my dear, I'm so lonely...'|
*sound of stylus being scratched across prized copy of Dean Martin's Dino: Italian Love Songs (you know, the one with "Return To Me" on it)*
What-an-ade? I hear you cry.
Chiffonade is a cooking technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips. This is usually accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife, producing fine ribbons.
"Chiffon" is French for "rag" referring to the fabric-like strips that result from this technique. To chiffonade simply means to turn into rag-like strips, as demonstrated here with some sage.
So what in the world is the Name This Food! food this week?