This week’s Secret Ingredient is Basil! Right now the basil is growing like crazy in my herb garden. Well mostly because I don’t really tend to the garden, I just go out and cut from it. I have to say there is something very satisfying about walking outside to cut basil, thyme, sage, chives, rosemary, and kale from my tiny garden. I love it. Especially the fresh basil. I love to make pesto, add it to my Roasted Tomato Soup, use it in Spaghetti and Meatballs and my latest pasta dish, Individual Lasagnas- Gluten, Dairy and Soy Free. If you happen to have a lot of basil on hand, check out my Kitchen Tip.
As I was gathering information on basil, I went to my trusted source book, The Deluxe Food Lovers Companion. Really if you have not bought this book yet I don’t know what you are waiting for. Amazon has a great deal on it and you can get it in my store. (thanks for the tiny % they share with me).
Basil is a key herb in Mediterranean cooking and essential to the traditional Pesto. Basil has beautiful and delicate green leaves except for the Opal Basil which is a beautiful purple. You can purchase lemon basil, anise basil, clove basil and cinnamon basil all having their per fumy fragrance and flavor matching their names. It grows abundantly in the summer but you can keep it alive on your windowsill in the winter. I’ve even bought the ones from the grocery with the roots on them and kept them going in a glass of water for months.
Basil should be refrigerated, wrapped in barely damp paper towels and then in a plastic bag for up to 4 days. Or I cut off the bottoms and put them in a glass of water and they last me a long time in my cold house. You can put them into the glass of water in your refrigerator with a plastic bag over the leaves and they say it will last a week, changing the water every 2 days. I guess I’ve been lucky.
Basil leaves are very delicate and can bruise easily. They can also lose much of it’s flavor in long-cooking dishes. To keep it fresh and to have that flavor pop more, add the fresh basil just before servicing or as a garnish. Chiffonade is a great way to be gentle when cutting the leaves. You stack your leaves, roll them up length wise gently and then make thin slices. You will end up with ribbons or translated in french “made of rags” or chiffonades.
Looking into the books I have on Healing Foods they list the properties of basil to helpful with the treatment of headaches, a digestive aid for vomiting, indigestion and flatulence, a mild sedative, and for depression. Keep in mind just because it’s printed in a book doesn’t make it right so you should further research this information and not use it as any type of medical advice. I am not qualified to give that.
But I am qualified to cook with basil and I love how it tastes in food and on top as a garnish. I’m also curious to use it in refreshing drinks. Hopefully someone will share some of those recipes and many more. Check out the Friday Foodie Fix page for all of the “how to” directions to participate. Just remember to link back to this page and share the love.
Next week’s Secret Ingredient is ….. Sunflower Seeds!