While basil plants can grow up to four feet tall, many don’t get much taller than afoot. The leaves are used in cooking and stay green year-round. They have a pungent flavor with hints of anise or licorice and make an excellent addition to any Italian dish. However, their flavor is so strong that only a little bit is needed. Some also claim that basil has healing properties, but more research needs to be done before experts are willing to confirm those results. At any rate, it’s important for cooks not to substitute another herb for basil when cooking Italian food; oregano just won’t cut it.
Health Benefits Of Basil
If you’re familiar with cooking, basil is likely already a staple in your kitchen. The herb has a nice aroma and adds plenty of flavor to many dishes. It comes in a variety of different flavors as well, including purple and Thai. But basil has additional health benefits that make it stand out from other herbs.
Tips For Growing Basil
Basil is not hard to grow, but it does need sunlight. The best thing you can do for your basil adds a few inches of organic soil each time you water it so that it doesn’t get too stressed out with roots in a small pot. A top-dressing of bone meal or seaweed is also recommended; Holy basil loves sulfur and magnesium, which are provided by bone meal and seaweed. As long as you keep your basil happy and healthy, it will reward you with tiny purple flowers before producing its signature leaves (it takes 60 days for basil to grow from a seedling). Once full-grown, clip some off at least once a week so that you can enjoy fresh herbs year-round!
How To Store Basil
Like most herbs, basil is best when stored in a cool, dry place. It should be kept away from light and heat, but also direct exposure to sunlight will cause it to wilt faster. When storing basil for longer periods, wrap it in damp paper towels before placing it inside an airtight container or plastic bag. This is so that air can circulate it and prevent any sort of moisture buildup which could damage leaves or make them rot faster.
Cooking With Basil
Basil doesn’t just add flavor, it’s also a nutritional powerhouse. This common garden herb has been shown to help reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol in several studies. It may also promote bone health and brain function. Packed with potassium, iron, vitamin A and more, basil is good for your body and mind.
Recipes Featuring Basil
Make use of your fresh basil by including it in recipes. The versatile herb works well in a variety of dishes, including pasta, fish and chicken dishes, vegetable side dishes, and soups. Toss chopped leaves into vegetable stews or with grilled vegetables. Add a handful of Holy basil when making your next batch of homemade pesto for a flavorful addition to pasta and pizzas.
Chop whole leaves and add them to tomato sauce when you make pizza dough, or add sliced leaves on top of pizza crusts before cooking them. For an easy-to-make and light dish, steam some cherry tomatoes with slices of garlic, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle basil over them before serving.