Basil, also called great basil or Saint-Joseph’s-wort, is a culinary herb of the family Lamiaceae. Basil is native to tropical regions from central Africa to Southeast Asia. It is a tender plant, and is used in cuisines worldwide. Basil, also known as Saint Joseph’s Wort, is an herb belonging to the mint family. It is used as in cooking and may have some health benefits.
The herb may have anti-inflammatory qualities.
Basil is a potent antibacterial.
Containing just 22 calories per 100 grams, basil is nutrient-heavy and calorie-light.
Basil may contain compounds that fight the effects of aging.
There are many different varieties of O. basilicum, including:
Sweet basil: The most widely grown, popular basil, renowned for its use in Italian dishes. Commonly sold dried in supermarkets. Has a licorice-clove flavor.
Bush or Greek basil: Has a strong aroma but mild flavor, so it can be substituted for sweet basil. Forms a compact bush with small leaves and grows well in a pot.
Thai basil: Has an anise-licorice flavor and is commonly used in Thai and Southeast Asian dishes.
Cinnamon basil: Native to Mexico. Has a cinnamon-like flavor and scent. Commonly served with legumes or spicy, stir-fried vegetables.
Lettuce basil: Features large, wrinkled, soft leaves with a licorice-like flavor. Works well in salads or tossed with tomatoes and olive oil.
Did you know: Basil plants are often grown as annuals but may survive for several seasons with some care and can reach heights between 30 and 130 cm (11.8 and 51.2 in) depending on the variety.
Basil gives zest to tomato dishes, salads, zucchini, eggplant, meat seasonings, stuffing, soups, sauces and more.
Pesto — a creamy, green sauce — is one of basil’s most popular uses. It’s typically made from crushed basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil and pine nuts, though dairy-free options are also available. Try it as a dip or sandwich spread.
Basil complements other herbs and spices such as garlic, marjoram, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary and sage.
If you have fresh basil, take only the leaves — not the stem. It’s generally best to add fresh basil at the final step of cooking because heat can diminish the flavor and bright green color (36).
If a recipe calls for fresh basil but you only have dried, use just 1/3 of the measurement, as dried is more concentrated.