Genovese basil plants (the most popular and common basil variety) bear leaves that have a strong aroma similar to that of cloves or anise. While the leaves' odor is powerful, the taste is more subtle. Many cooks like to use basil in tomato dishes; the two flavors complement one another. Over the years, basil has become an important ingredient in Italian dishes that rely on tomato sauces. Other popular uses for basil include pairing it with meats, fish and salads. Lemon basil is often used in chicken dishes and desserts.