I’m starting a new series of posts about cooking with fresh herbs.
I had wanted to do one long post featuring all of my favorite herbs. But then I then realized it would be a massive post! So I’ve decided to break it up and feature one herb each week, along with some of my favorite recipes using that herb.
This week I’m featuring Basil. I think it’s my favorite herb, as it was one of the most versatile; common in both Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. Basil is best used fresh, as it quickly loses its flavor when dried.
While it’s easier for those of us in warm climates to grow herbs year-round, basil can still be grown in cooler climates. Plant it in small pot, on a sunny window sill, until the weather is warm enough for it to be planted outside. Snipping, or “pinching” the top leaves, actually helps keep the basil growing.
The slight “licorice” scent that basil gives off is heavenly, and I love to rub my fingers over the plants in my garden. Thai basil, is sometimes referred to as “licorice” basil, has smaller, narrower leaves than Italian or Genovese basil.
Italian basil is best used for the culinary technique called “chiffonade”, because its leaves are large and easy to stack and roll. Click on my One Minute Food Byte, to see how to “Chiffonade” basil.
Italian basil is an absolute must in Pesto, and makes the perfect garnish for nearly every Italian dish, especially when tomatoes are featured.
For a twist on classic pesto, how about Sundried Tomato and Pistachio Pesto?
Speaking of tomatoes, I like to also use my herbs as natural insect repellant. Planting basil around your tomato plants, is known as “companion planting”, something I learned about from this book, called The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden. (I’ve had it for over 25 years). (affiliate link). Fresh basil leaves make a perfect garnish for this Grilled Pizza with Pesto, Ricotta and Smoked Mozzarella .
Or a Mediterranean Burger , with Grilled Portobello Mushrooms and Red Bell Peppers, Pesto and Provolone.
Thai basil’s smallish leaves are perfect for tucking in Asian Lettuce Cups. While there are over a dozen varieties of basil, I usually only have room for 2-3 types every year.
Here are a few more of my favorite recipes with basil. Summer Pasta is one of the easiest recipes ever. Fresh tomatoes are tossed with olive oil, fresh basil and garlic for a light sauce, perfect for summer.
If you like basil, you’ll love this Tomato Basil Soup with Goat Cheese, ready in under 20 minutes!
Basil makes a pretty garnish in the Spicy Confetti Shrimp.
One of my most popular recipes is this Whole30 compliant, Tomato, Mushroom Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Basil.
I hope you enjoyed this basil post! What’s your favorite way to cook with fresh herbs?