Basil, One Great Pizza Ingredient
Fresh basil is an essential ingredient for many pizzas and many Italian brick oven dishes, but buying fresh bunches can get pricey. Our solution was to always have at least on a pot growing in a window near the kitchen — or near the oven. In Italy (and in the US as well,) it is common to have a fresh herb garden. In the summer, a 6″ pot of fresh basil costs about $2 – $5, less than cut fresh basil costs, and for far more product. It also lasts a long time if you keep it moist.
Get a couple of Basil plants at Home Depot, Trader Joes, or many grocery stores and put them in a pot with nice potting soil. Find a sunny spot, don’t forget to water, and you will be rewarded and thrilled to have bunches of fresh basil any time you want. Our experience is that you should have a pot near the kitchen, even if you are growing basil in your vegetable garden. You will like having it handy. Some people find that placing the original pot in a bowl and watering from underneath keeps it healthy longer, as it self-regulates how much water it needs. It is ok for the plant to dry out sometimes to avoid root rot, but not often, or for long.
If you see flowers start to form at the tops of the stalks, remove them. Once your plant starts putting energy into making flowers, it stops putting energy into making new leaves, and you are close to having to replace it.
Hints and Tips for Cutting Basil Leaves
Cut your basil leave with scissors to go fast. If you have your round pizza cutter and a cutting board handy, gently roll the leaves into a tube, and cut slivers with the pizza cutter.