Common Types of Herbs For Cooking - Sweet Basil
There are various types of Basil, the most common being sweet basil and bush basil. There are however, a number of interesting and different varieites available now. These include licorice, lemon, mint and cinnamon basil. Dark opal basil or Thai basil has beautiful purple leaves and a strong flavour. It is not as good to eat as either sweet or bush basil. In cooking, basil should always be used sparingly. It has a strong clove like scent which is very pervasive. A few leaves scattered over a tomato and mozzarella salad are mandatory and a green salad is greatly improved by a few torn leaves of basil. Pesto, a Genoese sauce from basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan and olive oil, mixed into al dente spaghetti is a beautiful dish. When growing basil they make excellent plants in pots or as a companion plant with tomatoes. Basil repels white fly and you need three basil plants for every one tomato plant to make it effective. Basil also helps to repel flies and mosquitoes so a pot or basket is handy in the kitchen or outdoors near the BBQ. Be warned, Caterpillars love basil, and an entire fully grown plant can disappear in one night. Pick off the flowers to promote leaf growth, and nip out the topmost leaves to help the basil grow bushier
Red Capsicums in Basil Sauce
A recipe is a good way to finish off a hub about a herb. The obvious one would be pesto, but there are so many recipes for pesto on the net and in books i thought i would give you the recipe of a favourite of mine. Its a great dish to have with a free range chicken breast, and its very easy to make.
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 big bunch fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1 cup olive oil
- 3 large red capsicums
Place the crushed garlic in bowl, add the lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper. Pour in the oil, mix well and leave to stand for an hour. Puree in a food processor or blender. The capsicums must be peeled. The best way to do this is to place the whole capsicum over a gas flame or under a hot grill to chard the skin. Place in a brown paper bag for a few minutes, then, when cool enough to handle scrape off the skin. It will come away quite easily. If a few little black pieces remain, don't worry about it, it will add to the flavour. Cut the capsicums in half and remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into strips and thread the strips onto skewers. Grill lightly then place on a serving dish and dribble over the basil sauce.