Basil is one of my favorite herbs to use in food at home since it gives a very distinct flavor profile to anything its added to.
At work I’ve used basil in different ways for cocktails: I’ve served version of Mojito where basil and strawberries replaced the usual mint and lime. The Gin Basil Smash is a refreshing gin-based drink which takes care of the basil notes very well.
The herb lends itself very well to infusions, syrups and drying making storing it a breeze. All in all, whats not to love about it? Last year I cloned some basil from the kitchen at work and used those as a starter for my living spice garden on the kitchen counter, to supplement the square inch mint garden I had on the balcony.
This year I stumbled upon the Dark Opal version and decided to try out growing a tray of it to see what the deal was. A bit over 2 months later I’ve grown some, given away some and tested it in different foods
At first, I didn’t get any new, promised flavor of anise from my new plants which are the supposed new addition the Dark Opal brings with it. I just got the classic basil taste (with a much cooler purple color of course) up until this week, which is when I’ve started to get the hint of anise and only from one of my “colonies” of basil.
I’ve planted the basil in three different places in my garden and a few in pots indoors (1); A tiny patch near the edge of the property which got wiped out by a mix of grass and sun (I think), some that grow together with nasturtiums close to the house wall(2), and the most successful ones that grow together with the peppers in the middle of the deck(3).
It seems like the basil thrives on nitrogen-rich soil, as the basil plants with the peppers are the ones that get the most of it and they are the deepest, darkest coloration of the versions. They also give off a much stronger fragrance when you touch their leaves, and give the fabled anise after-taste when you eat it. It’s interesting to see the different impacts from the environment (mainly soil composition and amount of sun) has on these guys.
I’ll make the dark opal basil a staple in my herb garden now and I’ll try to clone some of the stronger ones to see if I can multiply them. I think I’ll give gourmet Basil salt a try with this too, should be a fun and tasty addition to winter cooking – Purple colored salt should give a fantastic look like a glass rim for any margaritas I might shakeup in the fall.