This deeply sweet aromatic herb is a delicate summer treat for just a few months out of each season, brightening salads, pestos, and sauces wherever it goes.
Flavor profile: Basil has a super sweet and aromatic flavor, that for many of us smells like summer. Named as the royal herb, there are many different basil varieties that have different flavor profiles from sweet to lemony to floral.
Uses: Basil is probably most famous for being made into pesto and served with pasta, bread, crackers, or drizzled over roasted root vegetables. Basil also goes with tomatoes often, either in a rich spaghetti or pizza sauce, or fresh in a caprese salad. Basil is also delicious paired with fruit to brighten up salads and slaws.
Pairs with: Basil pairs well with both sweet and savory foods. In salads it goes very well with balsamic dressings, strawberries, and peaches. In pestos and pastas it becomes savory paired with garlic, nuts, cheese, lemon juice, and tomatoes.
Storage: Basil does not like to get wet, the leaves can turn black fairly easily. If stored in a plastic bag in the fridge, the addition of a paper towel is helpful to soak up any moisture. Alternatively, you can cut the stems about a centimeter and place the bunched basil in a glass of water on the counter or in the fridge.
Other names: The word “basil” is derived from an ancient Greek word, “basilikhon,” which translates to something like, “royal”. In Spanish, it’s albahaca.
Nutrients: Basil has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and has even been known to help with depression, anxiety, and memory.
History: Originally from India and potentially regions of both Asia and Africa, Basil has traveled around the world and different varieties have adapted to different areas and different cuisines.
Why it's a great crop: Many herbs have small leaves and particularly woody stems, whereas basil grows more like a leafy vegetable, producing lots of greens to use for big bunches and bulk basil. Basil is one of many herbs, such as mint, in the Lamiaceae family. You can spot a plant in this family easily by feeling their square stems!