Sometimes, looking at older homes tucked into the hillsides of Silver Lake, or driving the winding coastal roads north of Malibu, I allow my vision to blur a bit and imagine I’m living in Italy. Reading books like “Under the Tuscan Sun,” I dream of packing up and moving more Mediterranean, because, as Eleanor Roosevelt tells us, “If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.”
What better place to taste the full flavors of life than in Italy, where la dolce vita embraces plump, fresh tomatoes, local olive oils and wines poured into simple glasses, meals shared with friends and family? Bread, pasta, and infusing so many dishes, basil, the flavor of caprese salad and pizza margherita.
If blurring your vision while driving the coast sounds like enough risk for you, and you recall the part of “Tuscan Sun” where the ceiling collapsed, savor a bit of Italy in your own backyard or windowsill. Pick up one of The City Farm’s Herb Garden Boxes to add a rustic touch to your city life, throw on a colorful apron, turn up Rosemary Clooney’s Mambo Italiano, and practice your pizza dough toss. It’s time to grow your own basil.
According to BasilGuide.com, the herb thrives in bright light, so whether it’s living in your window or yard, be sure it’s getting five or more hours of sunlight each day. If you live in a colder climate, it will act as an annual, but for those without a freeze, it will grow perennially.
What do you love to make with fresh basil? Take a look at The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for a dreamy caprese salad. Mmm….tastes like summer. For a fresh pizza margherita, check out The Splendid Table’s take. And if you want to drink your herbs? Try Food & Wine’s Cucumber-Basil Martini.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like summer, with friends sending invites for backyard BBQs and outdoor movie screenings. And, according to writer Robert A. Heinlein: “Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.”
Happy growing (and savoring)!