My friend Stephanie called me last week with an emergency: She has two basil plants each the size of a bush and wanted the leaves to find a good home.
So I stopped by one afternoon after work and took home a quart-size bag of classic Italian Genovese basil, with big, floppy green leaves, and a smaller bag of spicy Thai basil, with smaller leaves tinged with purple.
I used a handful of the Thai basil last weekend for a quick dinner side dish. Thai basil, which is spicier than Italian basil and has a hint of black licorice flavor, holds up to cooking a bit better than Italian basil. It added a delicious pop to a simple saute of seasonal tomatoes and sweet corn adapted from the recipe inside.
I didn't have baby beets, so I used tomatoes and peppers; you could use all three if you wished or just use the one you like most.
We ate this with grilled Italian sausage; it would be a lovely side with almost any protein.
Recipe: Sweet Corn with Baby Beets, tomatoes, peppers and Thai Basil
• 2 ears of corn, husked and halved
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 8 baby beets (about 1 pound), trimmed and scrubbed, or about a pound of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
• Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 cup diced peppers; I used a mix of red and yellow bell peppers
• Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
• 1 to 2 tablespoons torn fresh basil
• Garnish: basil sprigs
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Cook corn until tender, about four minutes, and transfer to a plate to cool. Add beets to water and simmer, partially covered until tender when pierced with a knife, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Let cool slightly and peel, then cut into halves or quarters.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan. Once it's hot, saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the chopped bell pepper to the pan and saute a few minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Add tomatoes to the pan, with juices and seeds, and cook until the tomatoes start to break down, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir corn and beets into pan and heat through. Stir in torn basil and cook for about one minute more, then transfer to serving bowl and garnish with basil sprigs.
— Recipe adapted from marthastewart.com