30 Jul 2006

Basil the King of Herbs

Basil, coming from the Greek word meaning King, has been around for a couple of thousand years and is thought to have originated in Asia and Africa. It has well over 50 varieties, the most popular being sweet, purple opal, lemon and cinnamon basil and is the same family as mint.

It is high in iron, calcium and vitamin A and also has riboflavin, niacin, fiber, vitamin C, K and B6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. Due to basil's flavonoids and volatile oils it has been found to inhibit bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotic drugs. It is a gentle sedative, helps to relieve high blood pressure and the symptoms of peptic ulcers and asthma. Plus it is an excellent anti-inflamatory and contains anti-oxidants which combat free radicals in the body.

Fresh basil is superior in flavor than the dried form. Do not store in the refrigerator or it turns black. Rather put the stems in a glass of water and store at room temperature. Basil goes very well with tomatoes, both in growing them and in the kitchen. As companion plants basil deters both diseases and pests in tomatoes and improves the flavour. Basil is well known in Italian and Thai cooking and for being the main ingredient of Pesto.

A simple tomato sandwich becomes a taste bud delight with a few added fresh basil leaves. Try it and enjoy.

Recipes of the Day

Leeks Nicoise
from The Herb Spiral

6 leeks trimmed and cleaned
2 tbsps (30ml) vegetable oil
7 oz (220g) can of tomatoes
chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, crushed
pinch sugar
chopped parsley to garnish

Heat oil in a deep pan.
Add the leeks and fry gently until they are soft but not brown.
Chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan with their juice , then the basil and garlic
Season to taste and add sugar and stir.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan.
Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the leeks are tender, stirring occasionally.
Sprinkle the parsley and serve immediately.

Vegan Pesto
from SoYouWanna?

1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh parsley
3 tbsps fresh oregano
2 tbsps fresh thyme
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsps pine nuts
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in food processor or blender.
Pulse until finely chopped.
Add oil and blend until the mixture becomes a thick paste.
Toss with your favorite pasta
Top with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast or freshly chopped parsley.
Serves four to six.

Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce
Submitted by Isa from PostPunkKitchen
This sauce is so easy and so so tasty. Don't be scared of the coconut milk, trust me, it's fabulous.

2 tsps olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
pinch dried thyme
pinch salt
fresh black pepper to taste
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

In the saucepot, over medium heat, saute the garlic in the olive oil for 2 minutes.
Add the thyme, salt and black pepper, saute for a couple of seconds.
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and simmer 3 more minutes.
Add the basil and turn heat off, let sit a couple of minutes before serving.

Couscous with Tomato and Basil
from Nikibone

2 tsps vegetable or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsps dried basil or 1/2 cup fresh, chopped
1 1/4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 cup couscous
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper

In a nonstick saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook garlic for 2 minutes or until softened.
Add dried basil; if using and water; bring to a boil. Stir in couscous.
Cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Stir in tomatoes, fresh basil; if using and salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe can also be made ahead and kept refrigerated for up to a day. Serves 4.



KleoPatra said...

I have not "purposely" used basil as i did not know really "how" to use it. These recipes will help. I had no idea the word basil came from the word king. Very cool! Thanks for another enlightening post...

Urban Vegan said...

I'm in basil heaven. Thanks for the wonderful recipes.

Vegan Diva said...

The Vegan Pesto recipe sounds delish. I'm going to have to try that recipe. I planted basil in my garden this year so I should have plenty.

Omni said...

My mother will LOVE that sauce!! :-)

Marion said...

I can't wait to try the Vegan Pesto, either...I plan on having it tomorrow night, I'll let you know!

Thanks for the recipe!