Garden to Kitchen :: African-Blue Basil & Lavender Pesto

I was introduced to African-Blue Basil last spring, when I purchased a small start at the ECHO Farm plant nursery. Now, I can't imagine not having this lovely herb in my garden. My little plant has become a big producer over the summer - it can grow into a bush that's 4' around! The fragrant leaves are green on the top, and purple on the bottom, and it produces a pretty, lavender-pink flower that attracts all kinds of bees. This perennial basil is so easy to grow because it's drought tolerant, and you never have to pinch off the flowers, as it will never go to seed and die.
The leaves, flowers, and stems of African-Blue Basil are all edible, and have an earthy, clove-like flavor. I use it to enhance and garnish soups, salads, and roasted veggies, and I like to float the blossoms in tea or lemonade. I've also become especially fond of this basil's strong flavor in pesto. I recently promised to share my recipe for African-Blue Basil & Lavender Pesto... so here it is. Enjoy!
African-Blue Basil & Lavender Pesto
makes approximately 1 cup

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
2 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
2 cups fresh basil leaves & flowers, chopped coarsely and packed lightly
1-2 teaspoons dried lavender blossoms
Salt to taste
3/4 cup finely-grated parmesan cheese

Blend all ingredients, except cheese, together in food processor. Add oil or water to reach desired consistency. Stir in cheese.

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