Are you ready to learn how to chiffonade basil? I’ll show you this easy method for cutting basil, and share how to grow basil, different types of basil, and tips for cooking with fresh basil.
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Types of Basil
I think fresh basil is my favorite herb. One of the most versatile, it’s common in both Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. The scent that basil gives off is heavenly, and I love to rub my fingers over the plants in my garden.
There are over 15 basil varieties. The most common type of basil, and the one you’re most likely to find in the supermarket, is Italian or “Genovese” basil.
Thai basil, sometimes referred to as “licorice” basil, has smaller, narrower leaves than Italian or Genovese basil. There is also dark opal basil, as well as lemon, lime and lettuce basil.
How to Cut Basil Chiffonade Style
What is basil chiffonade? Let’s start with the chiffonade definition. Chiffonade cut is a preparation of shredded or finely cut leaf vegetables.
When cutting basil, simply stack your basil leaves on top of one another and roll them up tightly. Then take your knife and finely chop the leaves. You’ll end up with beautiful ribbons of basil to use in soups or as a garnish.
Click on my One Minute Food Byte video in this post to see how to chiffonade basil.
Italian basil is best used for chiffonade because its leaves are large and easy to stack and roll.
How to Grow Basil
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 a small pot, and keep it 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 and will encourage a fuller plant.
I also like to use my herbs as a natural insect repellent. Planting basil around your tomato plants can help keep away insects that might feast on your tomatoes. Some gardeners also say that growing basil nearby improves the flavor of the tomatoes.
This is known as “companion planting”, something I learned about from The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden.
If you buy a bunch of basil from the store, you can keep it in a container of water. It will eventually root and you can replant it into a small pot.
Since basil grows best in warm climates, it doesn’t need a lot of water. Water your basil plant when the leaves look a bit wilty.
Cooking with Basil
Now that you know how to chiffonade basil, you will want to use it as the perfect garnish for nearly every Italian dish, especially when tomatoes are featured. But there are also more terrific ways to use basil in cooking.
Fresh basil makes a perfect garnish for this Grilled Pizza with Pesto, Ricotta and Smoked Mozzarella .
Basil makes a pretty garnish in the Spicy Confetti Shrimp.
Salmon in Basil Cream Sauce is a quick and easy weeknight dish.
Summer Pasta Sauce is one of the easiest recipes ever. Fresh tomatoes are tossed with olive oil, fresh basil and garlic for a light, no-cook pasta sauce.
If you like basil, you’ll love this Tomato Basil Soup with goat cheese, ready in under 20 minutes!
One of my most popular recipes is this Whole30-compliant Tomato Mushroom Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Basil.
What’s your favorite way to cook with fresh basil?