On the theme of writing on just one ingredient, I thought I would talk about my favourite herb, basil. Maybe it’s the fact that my grandfather was called Basil, or maybe it’s just the fact that I have been eating basil for as long as I can remember, but either way, basil is a fantastic ingredient.
I have such an obsession with it that I actually have now planted my own basil plants, and I have four healthy basil plants now, one greek, the other normal, growing in my garden.
I have eaten basil with everything: puddings, by itself, with meat, with fish, with bread, with pasta, with rice, with chinese food, with british food, with italian food, with indian food. It is a fantastically reliable herb to fall back on.
So, how to eat it. Well, always roll the leaves in your hand first; this releases some of the oils. Some chop, others rip. Personally I have never seen a large difference, but there is something certainly more therapeutic about ripping them up at the table!
Always wash basil first, just in some cold water, and, if you can be bothered wipe dry with kitchen paper, or alternatively shake them!
Lastly, here is a strange but delicious breakfast including basil: Chop up a few rashers of pancetta. Fry in some olive oil. Add a large amount of chopped basil. Toast some brioche. Once the bacon is crispy, golden and cooked, crack an egg into the mixture and stir it around. You will end up with a sort of scrambled egg with bacon inside. And of course lots of basil. Heavily butter the brioche, tip on the mix, and eat (outside preferably!)