The herb is well known for its use in Italian cuisine – it is a major ingredient in pesto sauce. Basil is also commonly used Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. Its highly fragrant leaves and aromatic with a robust licorice flavor. Excellent in pestos, as a finishing touch on pasta dishes (mixture of basil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese), or stuffed into sandwiches.
This member of the mint family has been used as a medicinal plant, and its oils and extracts are said to have antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Fragrant fresh basil, for instance, offers a healthy dose of blood-clotting vitamin K — 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil provide 27% of the RDA — as well as vitamin A, manganese, and magnesium.
Research studies on basil have shown unique health-protecting effects in two basic areas: basil’s flavonoids and volatile oils. apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin. These anti-bacterial properties of basil are not associated with its unique flavonoids, but instead with its volatile oils, which contain estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene.
How to Select and Store
Whenever possible, choose fresh basil over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. The leaves of fresh basil should look vibrant and be deep green in color. They should be free from darks spots or yellowing.
Fresh basil should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. It may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can freeze the basil in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews. Dried basil should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months.
The name “basil” is derived from the old Greek word basilikohn, which means “royal,” reflecting that ancient culture’s attitudes towards an herb that they held to be very noble and sacred. The tradition of reverence of basil has continued in other cultures. In India, basil was cherished as an icon of hospitality, while in Italy, it was a symbol of love.
Basil, chopped, fresh | 0.50 cup | 21.20 g | Calories: 5
|Vitamin K||87.94 mcg||98|
|Vitamin C||3.82 mg||5|
|Vitamin A||55.91 mcg||6|
|Vitamin B1||0.01 mg||1|
|Vitamin B2||0.02 mg||2|
|Vitamin B3||0.19 mg||1|
|Vitamin B6||0.03 mg||2|
|Omega-3 fats||0.07 g||3|
|Omega-6 fats||0.02 g||0|
Percent Daily Values (%DV) are for adults or children aged 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking
The Healthiest Way of Cooking With Basil
Since the oils in basil are highly volatile, it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process, so it will retain its maximum essence and flavor.
The Healthiest Way of Cooking With Basil read: Recipes.