Ornamental or not, it's a really fragrant plant. During the 6 hour drive home, it kept the stench of the cheese we bought at the local farm shop in Padstow at bay (thank god).
I wanted to use the leaves in a simple recipe. I didn't fancy pesto much, so just tossed with pasta seemed like the next best choice. A trip to Lewisham market yielded some British asparagus, my first this year, and some ridiculously cheap baby plum tomatoes. They were very sweet and the basil complemented them perfectly.
Spaghetti with Baby Plum Tomatoes,
Parma Ham & Asparagus
A handful of baby plum tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small bundle of asparagus
1 clove garlic
4 slices of Parma ham
10 purple basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Set the spaghetti on to cook. Meanwhile, fry the crushed clove of garlic in some oil until fragrant. Add the halved tomatoes and fry very gently. 5 minutes before the pasta is done, add the spears of the asparagus, chopped into bitesized pieces. 3 mins later, add the tips. When cooked, drain and put back into the saucepan. Add the basil leaves, ripped up, with the tomatoes and garlic. Toss with some extra virgin olive oil, and plate up. Rip 2 slices of Parma ham per portion and drape on top. Add grated Parmesan and black pepper, and serve.