Recipe: Shrimp with Holy Basil.

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I stuck to my usual veggie and herb staples this year in my beds at the community garden: spinach, potatoes, shallots, garlic, Swiss chard, parsley (both Hamburg and Italian), carrots, and sweet basil.  I couldn’t resist trying something new, however – this year it was holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum, syn. O. sanctum; also called tulsi), the seeds of which I discovered at Harmonic Herbs, an Alberta seed company out of Barrhead.

Holy basil is often confused with Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), but although they both originate in the same part of the world, they differ in flavour and appearance.  My holy basil plants are very short (about 10″) – I’m sure this is due to my growing conditions, as they are supposed to reach about 2 feet.  The bees are completely gaga over the blooms so I haven’t pinched them off.  This is one fragrant, glorious basil!  I can’t recommend it enough:  the clove-like, peppery oils in the leaves are insanely delicious!

It seems that there is a dearth of recipes using holy basil on the ‘net, so I perused the contents of my fridge’s condiment rack and made something up.  I’m not into wildly spicy food, so this just has a minor kick, to my taste – feel free to alter this as desired.

Shrimp with Holy Basil

Place 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and heat.  Add:

1 chili pepper, deseeded, destemmed, minced finely

3 cloves garlic, minced

Saute just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add:

1 large shallot (or 1 small onion)

2 scallions, trimmed, chopped finely

Cook 2 minutes, then add:

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp fish sauce

1/4 cup chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

20 large raw shrimp (I prefer them deveined and peeled)

Cook until the shrimp turns pink.

Add:

20 leaves holy basil, washed and finely chopped

Cook just until the basil is wilted, about 30 seconds.

Remove from heat and serve over hot cooked basmati rice. Serves 2.

(Metric conversion tables here).

Do you grow basil?  What is your favourite kind?  Did you grow any “new-to-you” plants this year?  Are you pleased with how they’ve performed?

Nothing but blue sky.

Happy Monday!  I can’t believe it’s already the 20th of January…the first month of 2014 is flying by!  My hubby and I managed to get out and soak up some sunshine on Friday afternoon at the Cross Conservation Area, just south of the city limits (you’ll remember me writing about previous walks in January of last year and again in September).  We really regretted that we hadn’t brought our snowshoes, as the crusty deep snow was a bit of a slog with boots on.  Last year when we went around this time, the informal pathways were more defined, with less accumulated snow.  Oh well, the extra exercise was definitely good for me – I think I’m still packing around all that holiday baking!  😉

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All this sun and the steadily increasing daylight hours are definitely putting me into a gardening frame of mind…I placed a couple of orders for various herb seeds last week, and all the important dates (meetings, bed clean-up, maintenance days) for the community garden are now inked onto my calendar.  I just harvested some fenugreek microgreens (YUM!) and I’ll put up some basil this week – I haven’t grown as many MG this winter as I usually do and I miss them.  It’s nearly time to start the ground cherries, too…maybe this is the year I will finally have success with them.

Enjoy your week!  What projects (gardening or otherwise) do you have lined up for the next little while? 

(If you want to read a bit about the history of the Cross Conservation Area, I’ve written a post about it here).

Garden summary – Chervil.

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One of my favourite plants in the edible garden this year so far has been chervil.  This is my first year growing this delightful little herb and I must say, it won’t be the last.  I love its lacy foliage that looks a little like flat-leaf parsley (except daintier) and its tiny sprays of white flowers.  It grows in a tidy mound instead of an ungainly sprawl and would transfer nicely over to an ornamental garden.

The flavour, though…what is that, exactly?  I find it on the anise side, but others have described it as akin to tarragon (perhaps) or even basil, which I just don’t taste (well, maybe the purple basils, which seem to have a licorice zip to them).  The leaves can get a bit tough in the hot sun, so it’s really fortunate that I positioned my chervil plants right next to my monster mizuna greens, which lend them a bit of shade (yep, in retrospect it was all a nice bunch of pre-planning on my part, LOL!).  The chervil will have to fend for itself when I yank out the last bit of mizuna to eat.

So far, I’ve tried my chervil in egg dishes, in mixed green salads, and with baked fish…does anyone have any other favourite ways to use it?  I will probably dry some of it for later use.  I’m trying to think of a way to incorporate it into a canned product or baked good as well…the anise-ish-y flavour makes me think that it might pair well with pears or peaches, maybe even apples.  Ooooh, food for thought!   (Thoughts of food?).  😉

What “ornamental edible”  (herb, greens, fruit etc.) has made an impression in your garden and on your tastebuds this year?