Basil is an annual plant that has very specific scent and taste and has thus gotten numerous culinary applications. Basil can be grown easily, even at home. The scent of fresh basil is unforgettable and even better – the herb is connected to various health benefits.
Dry or fresh basil leaves are used in cooking. The herb is known to stimulate appetite, suppress the symptoms of chronic gastritis, provide relief to people having flu or asthma and diminish the symptoms of urinary infections.
The word basil comes from the Greek basilikohn, which means royal. Ancient people considered the herb to be ‘noble,’ even holy.
Basil can be used to spice up various types of foods. Its popularity increased even more once people got used to the taste of pesto sauce – a combination of basil, pine nuts and grated Parmesan cheese.
When possible, cook using fresh basil since its scent and taste are much stronger. The leaves should look fresh and their color has to be dark green. Avoid yellow basil leaves or the ones that have brown spots on the surface.
Fresh basil can be stored in your refrigerator for several days. It can also be frozen without losing its qualities. If you use dried basil in your recipes, store it in air-tight containers to prevent it from losing its scent. Dried basil can be stored for a period of several months.
To keep basil’s scent and taste strongest, add the herb when your meal is nearly ready. Extensive cooking can diminish its specific smell.
Basil can be used to season beef, rice dishes, chicken dishes or potatoes. It is an excellent addition to soups, sauces, salads or stocks.
Add basil to fish or prepare marinate for meats using basil, olive oil and wine.
A wonderful salad dressing can be prepared from basil, dill and estragon. Mix the herbs and add them to olive oil.
Italian cuisine relies heavily on basil. The herb can be used in pizzas alongside oregano. It is also used in meat marinates and salads.
Basil is nearly a universal herb because of its sweet and very pleasing scent.
You need to know several little secrets when cooking with basil. Refrain from adding basil in the very beginning of the cooking process. If you are making pizza, add basil once it is ready and before serving.
To make your meals more aromatic, tear basil leaves using your hands instead of cutting them with a knife.
Keep your fresh basil in water to prolong its life. Wash and cut in pieces if you want to preserve it in the freezer. Use plastic bags or containers for best storage.
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