Cooking with Basil

Basil is a leading spice in many Italian and Thai dishes, it is also the main ingredient in many pestos. It also has a large number of uses in all kinds of savory dishes.

Though basil is easy to grow, many people do not have the time, the garden space, or the green thumb to do so. To buy fresh basil, choose bunches that are a vibrant green in color. Avoid bunches with dark or yellow spots. Dried basil can be bought from bulk containers in precise quantities or packaged in jars produced by the major spice companies. Fresh basil is undoubtedly better flavored, but not by much. Dried basil is a good substitute especially home dried in a dehydrator.

Dried basil is stored in jars in the spice cabinet. However, fresh basil may be stored in many ways. The bunch will stay fresh for about a week if wrapped in a damp paper towel and kept in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen in ice cube trays by adding either water or stock to the tray. The frozen cubes can simply be added to soups or stews as needed.

There is a wide variety of basil, many of which give different flavors and different presentations. The "basil" found in most recipes is most often referring to "sweet basil". But many other basils will do just fine.

Some chefs recommend adding basil at the end of recipes in order to preserve as much flavor as possible, as well as the beneficial volatile oils. Yet it can also be beneficial to put it in a dish early to infuse a sauce with the flavor.

We have put together a couple of recipes that feature basil:

Basil Angelique
Asparagus with Basil
Basil Pesto
Tomato Basil Soup
Basil Dressing

< Health Benefits of Basil | Basil Angelique Recipe >

Interesting Fact:

A vast array of flavors is available from the varieties of basil available. A gardner could literally grow a different variety for each day of the month.

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