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Friday, 31 August 2012

Basil - The Royal Herb

Basil plant leaves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Basil - The Royal Herb

The name of the herb "basil" comes from the Greek word meaning "king" or "royal", reflecting how the herb was valued.  The French sometimes call basil "l'herbe royale" too. In Italy, basil was symbolic of love and it was sometimes used as an aphrodisiac.
Basil sprout at an early stage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The English botanist Culpeper cites one "Hilarius, a French physician" as affirming it as common knowledge that smelling basil too much would breed scorpions in the brain. 

And basil did represent hatred in ancient Greece. But, there are many much nicer rituals and beliefs associated with basil. 

In Portugal, a dwarf bush of basil is traditionally presented in a pot, together with a poem and a pom-pom, to a sweetheart,  In Mediterranean countries, a pot of basil on the window sill denoted that an unmarried girl lived in the house. 

Scientific studies have suggested that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidantantiviral, and antimicrobial properties.

And in sunnier climates such as Southern Europe, the southern states of the U.S., the North Island of New Zealand, and Australia, basil will thrive when planted outside.  Elsewhere it loves its sunny window sill. 

The most popular type of basil that is used in cooking is sweet basil, but some people like to cook with lemon basil, clove basil or cinnamon basil.

Basil goes well with any type of tomato dish, whether it is hot or cold, and it is also the main ingredient of the Italian pesto sauce

Other ideas for using basil in the kitchen are:
  • Sprinkling fresh basil over the top of your pizza.
  • Adding it  to tomato-based pasta sauces just before serving.
  • Adding to soups.
  • Sprinkling torn basil over a tomato and mozzarella salad.
  • Adding to stir-fried vegetables.
  • Using in a marinade with garlic and olive oil.
  • Adding fresh leaves of basil to your salad.
And I use is as a simple seasoning with pepper, salt, chives and oregamo when I'm cooking white fish.

Here's how to grow Basil



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