I am happy to say that Maria, my basil plant and pesto inspiration, is still alive and well. That is right; Maria has survived over a month in my care. Miracles happen! Despite the constant Georgia rain and my regular leaf harvests, Maria is doing well. She/It.. continues to grow at a prodigious pace, but not too fast that I can make basil the star ingredient every day.
With having my own private source of fresh basil, I have been using the basil to garnish my dishes. This only requires a couple leaves at a time as opposed to the cup of leaves I use to make tomato soup. I julienne (cut into strips) the bright crisp green leaves. Depending on the dish, I may generous sprinkle the strips around the plate to add a pop of color or stack the emerald ribbons neatly in the center of the plate for a more structured effect.
Recently, I have begun an initiative to enhance the presentation of my food. Maria adds a functional garnish to the plate. Instead of simply tossing a sprig of parsley on the dish that no one is meant to eat on a plate like many restaurants do, basil actually adds flavor and beauty to the dish. I think I can attribute my love of artful presentation to watching too much of Bravo's Top Chef and the years of art classes have finally catching up with me! (To see my experience with an Atlanta Top Chef contestant's restaurant, see my previous blog on Flip Burger.)
I spend quite a bit of time plating my food and she has proved her worth. I guess I must continue praying that Maria avoids the curse of my black thumb!