Tomates sem basilico? - Unimaginable. The heady perfume that wafts the air as you brush past Basil is unparallelled.
An emerald forest in terracotta pots. Grown from seed our basil has flourished this year, giving us a bumper crop that if cut constantly and in the right way will keep the kitchen busy for the next couple of months. The basil will season much of our summer food here at Casa Rosada. It will accompany home grown tomatoes, home cured anchovies, sardine fillets and grilled fish spattered with fresh basil oil. Pestos every which way, fresh goats cheese and some scentsational salads.
It is the heart and soul of pesto. Its deep emerald leaves infuse olive oil to finish off a bowl of samarejo( Cordoban gazpacho) and a robust white fish steak such as Corvina comes alive when drizzled with this vibrant green emulsion.
In Portugal we have manjericos,a smaller leafed variety and a taste a little more towards aniseed.
The manjerico is strongly associated with the feast of St. Anthony, held on June 13. It is known as Saint Anthony´s manjerico: the lovers flower.The streets are decorated in bright colours and are full of people partying and dancing into the night.Bush basils (manjericos ) are found for sale on every corner. The tradition is that boyfriends should offer a Manjerico to their girlfriends. These bring a little flag with a verse on it, a little like fortune cookies or in Italy Baci chocolates. These potted bushes smell like basil but you should first touch it and then smell your hand, otherwise it may die!!!!
How to cope with a bounty full of basil.
100g basil leaves
250ml best quality extra virgin olive oil
a few extra basil leaves
Blanch the basil leaves in boiling water for five seconds, then drain and refresh with cold water. Squeeze it dry, then liqidise with the olive oil, Decant, add the few extra basil leaves and refrigerate until ready to use.
Pound basil leaves with half the quantity of mint and parsley, some anchovies and capers, then blend to a verdant sauce with lemon juice and olive oil. Eh voila, in minutes a perfect accompaniment to cold pork or chicken.
FOR A SIMPLE SUMMER SUPPER
Coarsely tear up some cooked chicken breasts, put them in a bowl and add plentiful torn basil, ( torn because the meeting of knife and basil leaf ends in bruising, and god forbid you dont want a little bruiser ruining your salad) chopped mint and rocket. Mix together well with lemon juice. Tip the resulting mixture into a salad bowl of pre-cooked cous cous. Stir in extra virgin olive oil, more lemon juice , salt and pepper. Serve immediately