Releasing its smell effortlessly, this tropical Asian plant reminds one of the sun and the heat. It has been grown in its native land for 3000 years. As a member of the mint family, basil today has around 150 different species grown in numerous lands with a warm climate. It holds an essential place in Mediterranean cuisines, most notably in Italian cuisine. Also, basil is commonly used in the Far East.
There are different kinds of basil cultivated in different geographies. The most commonly used of its kind, which is generally known as basil, is called sweet basil or Genovese basil. With wide, bright green, silky leaves and small white flowers, sweet basil is the most widely used kind of basil in the West. Basil is a must for pesto sauce, tomato salads and pizzas.
With notes of clove and aniseed, basil has a sweet and spicy flavor. In the background of its warm, peppery and clove-like aroma, notes of mint and aniseed can de sensed.
Basil works well with garlic and tomato. After adding some olive oil on chopped tomatoes, you can sprinkle dried basil on it. When combined with garlic and olive oil, it gives a great aroma to fish and chicken. It also blends well with egg, dipping sauces and salad dressings as well as summer vegetables such as zucchini and green pea.
Fresh basil is rather perishable. You can only preserve it in the fridge for 2-3 days. To keep it fresh, try wrapping it in a damp paper towel or putting it in a freezer bag.
You can also buy dried basil. It will preserve its flavor for one year, if kept away from light and heat in a jar sealed with a tight lid.
As basil loses its flavor easily when exposed to a long cooking process, it should be added to the meal later on, especially for dishes cooked in a pot.
By preparing an olive oil-based sauce flavored with the unique taste of basil, you can give a rich taste to different meals ranging from meat dishes to salads. For this sauce, line fresh basil leaves in layers in an airtight jar with a tight lid. Don’t forget to add salt in between layers. Then add a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, close the lid and leave it in the fridge. After staying in the fridge for a while, the leaves will darken however; its great aroma will be infused in the olive oil perfectly.
With basil, you can prepare a wonderful mix to give your oven-roasted chicken an extra flavor. Try mixing a dessertspoonful of dried basil with a clove of crushed garlic, zest of a lemon, fried breadcrumbs, a pinch of salt and softened butter at room temperature. Rub this mixture under the chicken’s skin with your hands and roast it in the oven. You will serve a uniquely delicious chicken.
You can also try mixing dried basil with salt, a clove of crushed garlic and softened butter at room temperature and the spreading it on sliced bread. Line the slices on a baking tray and cook them until breads are baked. With this recipe, you can create superb garlic breads and serve these with soups and salads.
Finally, you can toss diced feta cheese, chopped tomatoes, dried basil and olive oil together and serve this with toasted bread at breakfast. Worthy of the Mediterranean breakfast, this flavor will surely enrich you breakfast table.