Get to Know Your Spice Rack: All About Basil
One great way to improve your Kitchenability — and fast — is to get to know your spice rack. Understanding the basic flavor profiles of the herbs (fresh and dried) in the market and, likely, already in your spice rack at home, will really kick your cooking up a notch…or two, or three.
Today’s “Get to Know Your Spice Rack” herb of choice is: Basil!
Basil is an aromatic herb from the mint family, and is native to tropical Asia. The leaves are used in many Italian and Mediterranean dishes.
Fun Facts About Basil
- Basil is an amazing herb. It smells great, has great flavor, can be used dried or fresh and is incredibly versatile! No wonder it is the most widely used herb in the world.
- From About.com: “A member of the large mint family, basil is known botanically as Ocimum basilicum. It has long been used as an embalming and preserving herb, found in mummies of ancient Egypt. Perhaps because of its embalming usage, basil was also a symbol of mourning in Greece where it was known as basilikon phuton, meaning magnificent, royal or kingly herb.”
- Basil’s native territory is actually India! Most of us associate basil with Italian cuisine, but it didn’t get over to Italy until much later.
Dried Basil vs. Fresh Basil
Dried basil has more intense concentrated flavor that can be substituted for fresh basil at a ratio of 1 tsp dried to 3 tsp fresh. While dried basil is very convenient and can be great for cooking soups or sauces, it doesn’t generally have the same pureness of flavor as fresh basil. And, always store dried basil in an air-tight container away from light and heat. Fresh basil is great for making pesto, certain sauces and, as profiled below, for making an amazing bruschetta.
Easy Classic Bruschetta Recipe
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 1 tsp dried basil or 3 tsp fresh
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 4 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 6 slices of Italian bread or French bread
1. Place diced tomatoes, basil, garlic and oil together in small bowl. Mix well.
2. Place mixture on top of sliced bread, top with Parmesan cheese and place in the oven at 375℉ for 5 minutes, until the cheese has fully melted.
Photo: “Basil” by Jasmine&Roses is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0