Basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs, and one of the most versatile. Originally from India, where it has been cultivated for over 5,000 years, Basil features prominently in Mediterranean [Italian, Greek, North African] cooking, along with the cuisines of Asia, especially Thailand and Vietnam.
Basil is a member of the mint plant family, but is enjoyed for its distinctive rich and spicy, mildly peppery flavor with a trace of mint and clove. Basil has a unique aroma not approximated by any other herb, strong, pungent, often sweet.
Use basil liberally in veal, lamb, fish, poultry, white bean, pasta, rice, tomatoes, cheese and egg dishes. Basil pairs deliciously well with garlic, thyme and lemon. Basil adds zip to mild vegetables like zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, or potatoes, and to the soups, stews and sauces in which these vegetables appear.
Basil is the main ingredient in pesto, the mixture of basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan.
Basil shows its best traits in dishes that will be heated to release the full flavor of the herb. 1 tsp dried basil = 1 tbl fresh basil.
Basil is also a versatile herb - it is one of the ingredients in the liqueur chartreuse, and is recommended as a digestive aid [after-dinner basil tea is thought to dispel flatulence] and headache cure.