Basil, Sweet

General Description

Basil is a bright green, leafy plant, Ocimum basilicum, which is in the mint family.

Geographical Sources

Basil is grown primarily in the United States and Egypt.

Traditional Ethnic Uses

Basil is widely used in Italian cuisine and is often paired with tomatoes. It is also used in Thai cooking. The herb complements meat, vegetables, cheese, and egg dishes.

Taste and Aroma Description

Basil has a sweet, herbal bouquet.

History/Region of Origin

Basil originated in India and Persia, and was both prized and despised by ancient peoples. Though its name means, "be fragrant," Greeks hated it. However, the Romans loved it and made it a symbol of love and fertility and settlers in early America prized it. Today, Hindus plant it in their homes to bring happiness to the family.

Storage Tips

Store in cool, dark, dry places.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started

Basil tastes great in tomato and pasta dishes but it is also gives a sweet-scented, minty aroma when crumbled over baked chicken, lamb, or fish. It blends well with garlic, thyme, and oregano. Crush dried leaves with your hand or in a mortar and pestle to release the herb's flavor. Start with 1/2 teaspoon for 4 servings; add more to taste.