The Passion Fruits

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Hello, Austin? Basil Exposition here…

So, this here basil with the teeny tiny little leaves? You must go forth and get yourself a pot, like, STAT. I’ve totally fallen in love with its uber-pungent, peppery flavor and frankly, it’s adorable.

I bought it a few weeks ago during a trip out to the suburban wilds buying supplies for this year’s balco-garden based solely on the facts that a) it was a basil and b) that it was cute.

A few days later, however, I was out for dinner with friends at Vidalia (verdict: eh…) and my swordfish had been sprinkled with these familiar-looking little leaves. I was blown away by the intensity and depth of their flavor–what looked like a throw-away garnish of microgreens actually contributed a welcome wallop of fresh, intense basil-y-ness.

Suffice to say, I was stoked to have some already growing at home, where I’ve been tossing it over salads and quickly-cooked pastas to great effect. It’s easy to snip of a few clusters of leaves and then just give them a quick snip over finished dishes. And, given its bushy growth habit, the plant looks none the worse for wear either, which is nice.

On the topic of growing things, I was NOT impressed with my other herbs last year (I’m looking at you, Tarragon), so this year I decided to stack the deck with tasty–and famously agressive–basils and mints and just buy other stuff by the bunch at the market.

So far, this plan seems to be working well, with the basils (Genovese, Thai, and tiny leaf), the peppermint, and something called “basil-mint” (?) growing like gangbusters around the lantana Mr. T insisted I stuff in with the herbs and duking it out for total planter dominance.

Since both the closely-related basil and mint can be easily water-propagated, I’ve already got a couple of additional plants sprouting away in a jar. The bigger basils tend to get leggy and bolt if you’re not watching them closely, so taking regular cuttings helps keep them short and sweet all summer long. Now I just need to think up some ways to use all this tastiness. Suggestions?

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