Basil: The Most Versatile Herb

Posted: August 26, 2022 9:49 am

Basil is an herb native to tropical regions in Africa and Asia; however, it can be grown in gardens worldwide. There are many different varieties of basil, such as Thai basil and lemon basil. In general, when a cook talks about basil, they are talking about sweet basil, the most widely cultivated and used form.

Although you can buy dried basil, just don’t. The fresh leaves have so much more flavor and are so much more versatile. Basil can be grown outside in gardens over the summer or indoors all year round in a sunny window. Fresh basil is also readily available in practically all grocery stores.

So you have grown a bumper crop of delicious-smelling sweet basil and are probably now wondering what you can possibly do with it all after you get tired of eating pasta with pesto. Well, you have many delicious options, so read on.

Caprese Salad on a Skewer
If you have a bumper crop of basil, you are probably also overrun with delicious home-grown tomatoes. Caprese salad is a classic way to serve fresh basil and tomatoes together. Originally, the colors were designed to reflect the Italian flag, with stripes of green basil, red tomatoes, and white mozzarella. The classic Caprese salad is a wonderful offering at the table, but it is somewhat inconvenient for eating as an appetizer at a backyard barbecue. Try a twist on Caprese salad by placing the ingredients on a skewer! The delicious salad becomes portable finger food.

Basil Butter on Grilled Corn
Although most people talk about the steak and chicken as being the most important parts of a summer barbecue, the sides are what get people drooling and talking. Nothing is better than fresh corn on the cob grilled to perfection; well, except for fresh grilled corn slathered with basil-infused butter. The basil adds a subtle, peppery touch that enhances the natural sweetness of the corn.

Basil-Lemon Granita
After a fun but hot day at the shore, most of us are looking to cool off. A classic granita is an excellent way to do just that. You can make a cool, refreshing basil-lemon granita the day before you head off to the beach and keep it in the freezer or in a cooler, ready to go. An adult version can be made by infusing the mixture with vodka.

Grilled Chicken with Lemon-Basil Glaze
Everyone loves fall-off-the-bone grilled chicken, but toward the end of the summer you might yourself tiring of the ubiquitous barbecue sauces used to dress up grilled chicken. Try refreshing your style with a light, zesty, but very flavorful lemon-basil glaze. The glaze can be made at the same time you prepare the marinade for the chicken, and the next day all you have to do is grill the chicken and then coat it with the glaze. Your guests will be delighted to experience this unique flavor sensation.

Blackberry Basil Bites
When we think of basil, we rarely think about dessert. However, basil can be used to add zing and flavor to many different types of delicious, wholesome desserts. At the end of the summer, blackberries perfectly ripened in the sun are one of the most delicious and nutritious foods you can eat. Blackberries and basil added to a fluffy, light meringue base produces the most luscious dessert ever, blackberry-basil bites. You’d better triple the recipe because they will be a big hit with your guests.

Basil Chips
We all love snacking, and most of us reach for those crunchy, salty chips when it is snack time. Try switching it up and replacing your chips with baked basil chips. In addition to being crunchy and satisfying, these chips are very healthy. Basil is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and some people find it relieves headaches.

Mediterranean Pizza
We’ve all been told repeatedly that a Mediterranean-style diet is the healthiest way to eat. Most of us immediately think of salmon dishes and salads with chickpeas and then we go grab a burger for lunch. But the Mediterranean diet can include so much more, such as pizza topped with fresh basil, spinach, olives, feta, and mozzarella cheese. To make it even healthier and more Mediterranean, you can make a chickpea pizza crust to go under the delicious toppings.

At this point, you are probably wishing you had planted even more basil in your garden! Well, there’s always next year.



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