Do you like Italian food? Pesto sauce, Pizza, Caprese salad … This list goes on and on. So many delicious Italian dishes are unthinkable without Basil.
What is Basil
Basil is an annual herbaceous plant that is used as a spice. The name of the basilica (ocimum) comes from the Greek osme – smell, and the specific name of the basilica basilicum – from the Greek basilikos – royal. Arabs call this spice raihan. In India, it is called Tulsi.
Common basil, known as a spicy and medicinal plant, blooms in the summer months, producing a wonderful aroma. The strong, pleasant smell is due to the presence of essential oils within it’s aboveground blossoms. Basil is a source of essential oils, eugenol, and camphor. Essential oil and pure eugenol are used in perfumes and the food industry as an aromatic agent, as well as raw materials for the production of vanillin. Leaves are a valuable source of carotene. The essential oil in the plant accumulates in the spring when the juicy greens appear.
It grows wild in Iran, India, China and some other countries. It is found in southern Asia, in Africa, the tropical region of America, in Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. The alleged homeland is Africa. The basilica was brought to Europe by the soldiers of Alexander the Great. Previously used primarily as a medicinal plant.
How to choose
Although there are a lot of varieties of Basil, all of them can be attributed to two groups – green leaves or purple leaves.
Green basil is popular in Europe: in France, Italy, Greece. In these countries, it is added to many variations of dishes – salads, all kinds of cold snacks and, of course, to pastries. Chefs appreciate the plant for its cool mint-like aroma and refreshing, delicate taste.
Violet basil has a much richer and rougher flavor. This basil is often added to any meat, poultry, vegetables, and cheeses. Purple basil is more suitable for adding to hot dishes, especially when dried. With this kind of Basil, a stunningly aromatic tea is brewed, which after adding lemon slices acquires a pale pink color.
Whichever variety of Basil you choose, it is important that it is high quality. The leaves should not be faded and should be without blemishes and black spots, as this suggests that the plant is sick.
Although Basil is very tasty and healthy, it should be noted that in large doses, the plant acts as an irritant to various organs. Basil preparations are contraindicated in coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, diabetes mellitus, thrombophlebitis, hypertension.
How to store
Greens are best stored as a bouquet of flowers. You can put it in the refrigerator but add water. It is preferable to use glass or ceramic dishes. Better not to use plastic containers.
Try a Caprese with basil!
This light Italian snack combines all the ingredients so perfectly that they seem to not be able to exist separately.
Cut the washed tomatoes into slices about 5 millimeters thick. Cut the cheese into slices – not thicker than 7 millimeters. Rinse the basil and divide it into leaflets. Put it all in turn on a large dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried basil. Pour olive oil and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!