Like a true royal, Basil has a rich history and as many varieties as the loyal subjects of an emperor. This exotic herb is popular all over the world and has now become a regular ingredient in every day dishes.
In Greece, the word basil means “king” and its power includes healing. The Italians regard it as a symbol of love and in India it is an emblem for hospitality. Basil’s diversity and its ability to blend with other herbs to complement a range of dishes make it an herb of choice.
When buying Basil:
Basil comes in an array of sizes, flavors and colors. Even the basic green basil variety can have a different taste. Despite the fact that this culinary herb grows best in sunny weather, it can be found fresh, dried or preserved in oil all year round. In the produce aisle, look for unwilted leaves with vibrant purples and deep green color. Fresh Basil is best purchased just before you are ready to use it in your recipe.
How to Cook With Basil:
- African Blue Lemon Basil is one of the lesser known varieties that blends well with parsley, chives and dill. Its very distinct lemon taste adds a fresh zing to teas and chicken dishes.
- Mexican Basil, also called Cinnamon Basil is a garden décor favorite with dark green leaves and lavender flowers. As the name implies, it has the scent and flavor of cinnamon. It enhances the palate for pumpkin and sweet potatoes but its favored use is in Mediterranean soups, sauces and salads.
- Siam Queen Thai Basil has a spicy, anise-licorice aroma and flavor. This award winning variety has purple on the reverse leaves and stems with pink blossoms. It heightens the flavor of Thai curry dishes and Vietnamese soups made with rice, noodles and sprouts.
- Italian Sweet Basil - Of all the members of the family, this medium-dark green variety is bigger than most. It has a sweet clover flavor that you will taste in many Italian dishes. Hands down, Italian Sweet Basil wears the crown in dishes like Pesto or Basil Fettuccine. Serve your favorite basil enhanced recipes with a hearty Italian or French bread and a glass of table wine.
The Hungry Goddess Cooks with Basil:
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