Pesto perpetuo basil

The variegated leaves of the pesto perpetuo basil.

I’ve long been searching for basil that could match the enormous, fragrant and flavourful plants I found several years ago at Dufferin County grower. (I’m not going to name names since he confessed to smuggling seeds from Israel to nurture in his greenhouse.)
This season, I finally found success with some pesto perpetuo plants purchased from Richters Herbs in Goodwood.
The description on Richters website sounded promising: dense columnar growth and variegated leaves gives this basil a majesty and appeal like on other … the scent is a compelling floral blend of spice and lemon … because it never flowers, it never slows down, as basils usually do when they flower and set seed.
The plants have delivered. They stand about 80 centimetres now. I’ve used the leaves for salads, salsas, pestos, pizzas, marinades and more over the summer and the taste is both sweet and spicy — just like basil should be.
Before the first frost, I will pick the remaining leaves and blend with fresh garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil in the food processor.
I freeze this mixture in a thin layer in freezer bags, breaking off a chunk any time I want “fresh” pesto taste during the winter.
For some recipes, such as frittata or soups, I use it as is. For a traditional pasta sauce, I add grated Parmesan cheese and very finely chopped pinoli (pine nuts) or walnuts.

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