While some herbs are called “Queens,” basil is called the “King of All Herbs.” A native of India, basil (ocimum basiilcum) was brought to Greece most probably during the time of Alexander the Great.
Its name comes from the Greek word basileus (which means ‘king’). The herb grows to about 30-60 cm and it has lovely green leaves and white flowers (there are different basil types with different leaf color). Parts used are mainly the leaves.
This fresh and highly aromatic rejuvenating basil is known by its juicy and appetizing, rich in flavor, leaves. Basil has a rather pleasant taste (although not everyone loves it) and it is a great culinary herb frequently used by chefs and consumers.
Basil can be used in soups (it is simply delicious in tomato soups), as an addition to salads, to make Italian healthy basil pesto with olive oil, mixed with other vegetables and in salad dressings.
As a preparation tip: always add fresh (fresh and young leaves have the best flavor) basil leaves at the end of cooking. Otherwise, if basil is cooked it will lose its aroma quickly, and leaves will become darker. To get the best out of the basil flavor, aroma and texture, add your basil as an additional flavor to your soups when cooking is done. Stir in basil just before serving.
Basil is not only excellent for cooking. It can be also used as a natural medicine to combat diseases: as a natural disinfectant, for easing nervous irritability or to calm the digestive system.
Fresh basil leaves are oily and they contain essential oils such as: eugenol, falvonoids, estrageole and an antioxidant activity mainly coming from flavonoids found in the green basil.
Basil is an excellent herb for digestive organs and it has antimicrobial activity on intestinal pathogens. Basil also belongs to a group of herbs with anti-inflammatory, anticancer and protective properties. Here are more health benefits of basil:
- Helps with the symptoms of constipation, stomach cramps, indigestion and vomiting
- Lessens depression and headaches
- It can help with a weight loss diet plan
- Improves blood circulation
- Eases colds, flu, coughs and sinusitis
- Relieves nausea
- Treats bad breath and headaches
Basil Pesto from Scratch
DID YOU KNOW: while some say that if you carry basil in your pocket you will always attract money others claim that the scent of fresh basil causes sympathy between two people. When arguing with your lover, or when you want to soothe tempers with your beloved partner, rub fresh leaves against your skin.