At Turtle Bend Farm in Rockmart, a 300-foot row of Genovese basil has been growing all summer. Mecca Lowe and her husband Adam are in their second year of farming on land that’s been in her family since her great grandfather’s day. Genovese is the basil with huge, bright, green leaves and that 300-foot row provides the Lowes with basil enough to offer by the bunch or the pound.
The Lowes sell their basil and a variety of vegetables on Thursday afternoons at the Rockmart Farmers Market and at the Marietta Square Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Occasionally they can be found at the Sandy Springs Farmers Market.
Now busy with their rows of hardy greens like kale, collards and mustard, they still take time to admire the basil which has been producing all summer.
“I love basil. I’ve read that it makes you happy when you smell it,” said Mecca Lowe.
The basil also makes the plants nearby happy as its blossoms attract beneficial insects that are an important component of the couple’s Certified Naturally Grown farm.
“I’m a big fan of making pesto and freezing it in ice cube trays so it’s available all winter,” said Lowe.
For those customers not making pesto, Lowe has a tip to keep the basil fresh for a week: “We sell our basil with a bit of the stem, so if you put it in a glass of water, it will keep on your counter all week.”
She also finds that most everyone tries to grow their own basil and they think that when it flowers, the plant is done.
“I tell them to take their pruning shears and just chop those blooms right off. The plant should come back better than before,” she said.
At local farmers markets
Fruit: apples, Asian pears, figs, muscadines, pears
Vegetables and herbs: arugula, basil, beans, beets, bok choi, broccoli, cabbage, chard, chestnuts, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, lettuce, micro greens, mizuna, mushrooms, okra, onions, southern peas, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, summer squash, tatsoi, tomatoes, turnips, winter squash
Events this week
Brookwood Farmers’ Market, Cumming -- Pumpkin patch and train ride for kids
4 – 7 p.m. Friday
For information: www.brookwoodfarmersmarket.com .
Morningside Farmers’ Market, Atlanta -- cooking demo
9:30 a.m. Saturday
Chef Steven Hartman, Le Vigne at Montaluce
For information: www.morningsidemarket.com .
Peachtree Road Farmers Market, Atlanta -- cooking demo
10 a.m. Saturday
Chef Hector Santiago, Pura Vida
For information: www.peachtreeroadfarmersmarket.com
From local reports
Lemon Basil Flatbread
Hands on: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Makes: 12 flatbreads
One can only use so much pesto. If you’re looking for something else to do with your basil, try this flatbread. Don’t let the fact that it’s a yeast bread keep you from making it. The rise time is only 30 minutes and there’s no rolling pin required. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can stir this together with a wooden spoon.
And don’t limit this recipe to basil season. Winter hardy herbs like rosemary, thyme and parsley would also work well. The flatbreads are good enough to eat all by themselves, but make a delicious base for salsa or hummus and work perfectly as a sandwich wrap.
1 1/4 (one and a quarter) cups lukewarm water
1 1/4 (one and a quarter) ounce package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 cups bread flour, more if needed
12 medium basil leaves, finely sliced
1/4 (quarter) teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast and sugar and let sit 5 minutes, or until it begins to get foamy. Add the flour, basil, salt, lemon zest and juice, and knead with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and beginning to become elastic, about 3 minutes. Your goal is a smooth but soft dough. Pour olive oil over the dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl and set aside for 30 minutes.
Preheat medium cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. There should be a light coating of oil on each piece.
Take one portion of dough and pat into a 6-inch circle. Put into preheated skillet. Flatbread will begin to form bubbles. When the first side is lightly browned but still soft, about one minute, turn and bake the other side for about 30 seconds. Flatbread should be soft and pliable, not crisp. Remove from pan.
While one flatbread is cooking, pat out the next portion of dough. Your goal is to have a flatbread ready to go in the skillet when the preceding one comes out.
Keep baked flatbreads warm in a clean kitchen towel. Refrigerated, flatbreads will keep up to one week.
Per flatbread: 161 calories (percent of calories from fat, 17), 6 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 4 milligrams sodium.
About the Author
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC