Thanks to the growing percentage of pesto lovers, basil has recently enjoyed a sprout in popularity — quickly becoming one of the most used herbs in the kitchen. Not only is basil versatile, it is considered by many enthusiasts as tops among the herb family. The next time you want to impress someone with a zesty dish — like Curtis' Linguini with Turkey Meatballs — consider using basil!
Origins and Folklore
Although basil is most commonly associated with Italian or Thai foods, it originated in India.
According to folklore, basil was a symbol of love and fertility in Italy. As time passed, it became a custom in Romania for suitors to wear a sprig of basil once engaged to be married.
How to Grow
Basil is an excellent growing herb. Purchase some small basil plants from a garden shop and plant in rich, well-drained soil with plenty of sunshine and water.
Be sure to remove flowers for increased growth all summer. Basil does not tolerate frost, so bring your plants indoors before your first cold spell.
When cooking with fresh basil leaves, layer in damp paper towels and place inside a plastic bag for up to four days in the refrigerator.
Basil is a tomato's best friend. Almost any dish that has tomatoes in it will benefit from a dash of basil. According to the Herb Companion Cooks cookbook, basil's flavor can be described as tasting like "orange peel and sage." This herb complements a wide assortment of dishes, including meat, poultry, fish, soups and salads, and is the shining star in pesto!
Basil is also a versatile herb and has many uses outside the kitchen. Try adding a few fresh leaves to your bath for an invigorating soak. To handle those pesky mosquitoes, burn sprigs of basil on the grill at your next outdoor party. A pot of basil by the kitchen window will deter flies.
Chef Stone's Recipes
Now that you've got a greater appreciation for this superb herb, pick up a bunch during your next shopping trip and try these delicious recipes from Curtis for your next meal.
Marinated and Grilled Bison Rib Eye With Pasilla Salsa
Linguini With Turkey Meatballs and Ragu of Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers
Deep Fried Eggplant and Mozzarella with Basil
Risotto of Wild Mushrooms, Parmesan and Basil