Basil is a delicious herb that is used in all manner of cooking. This is something that everyone who cooks regularly should keep to hand, along with their baking tools. Basil goes by a number of different names, which include sweet basil, Thai basil, and more. The official term for basil however is Ocimum basilicum.
Basil belongs to the ‘large mint family’ or the Lamiaceae family. Other herbs that belong to this category include rosemary, sage, and lavender. It should be kept in the fridge. Use a ramekin and souffle dish or similar and cover.
History and Origins
The history of basil can be traced back to India. It has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years and is used all around the globe.
Some signs point to basil having originated even further East than India too, with some records dating as far back as 807 A.D. suggesting that sweet basil may have been used in the Hunan region of China. Eventually, the herb would spread to the West and the rest of the world.
With such widespread use, it should come as no surprise that there are many different varieties of basil and many different uses. Basil has even been used in embalming in Ancient Egypt!
How to Use Basil
Basil has a subtle and fresh peppery flavor which can become slightly sweet and aromatic. This means that it can be used in most cooking where you would add pepper, though it works best if that dish has a somewhat sweet flavor. Good examples include anything tomatoey (such as Italian pasta), as well as a number of salads. It also complements garlic and olives particularly well. It also works well on a tomato and canned tuna salad.
Basil should be added at the end of cooking and can even be sprinkled on as garnish. This works extremely well to add interest to a pizza. If you have a pizza oven, then you should definitely keep basil around the house.
Basil is actually known to have a number of impressive benefits for health. Basil tea is thought to improve nausea, stomach pain, and gas.
Good examples of meals that work very well with basil include pizza, garlic bread, bolognaise, pesto salads, and beef.
Here is an example of a meal that works particularly well with basil: ratatouille.
To make this one, you will need:
- One red onion
- Two red peppers
- Two courgettes
- One eggplant/aubergine
- A can of chopped tomatoes
- Goats cheese
To make this dish, you will first need to chop the vegetables into large chunks on a cutting board with your choice of food chopper. You can cut the red onion into quarters and the aubergine into thick slices. You can use an Apple slicer.
Now oil and salt. Place all onto a warming tray and then transfer to the oven. Cook on 180C for around 25 minutes.
Now toss with a skillet at half time. Add the goats cheese, the chopped tomato, and the basil. You can also take this opportunity to add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook for a further 20 minutes and serve with crusty bread for a truly delicious and very healthy meal!
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