Quite literally. Basil, or great basil as it’s also called, is one of the most sought after culinary herbs that comes from Latin basilius and Greek basileus, meaning “king”. It has the same root as “basilica”, that originally had a special royal walkway – basilike stoa. Some speculate that it got its name because it was used in some royal medicine, but others are not sure. So are we. The only thing we are quite aware of is that basil is an aromatic plant you want on top of your margherita, mixed into your salad or muddled into a cocktail or a smoothie.
Basil is usually used fresh in recipes. Its flavor is so subtle, you don’t want to lose it during long cooking times. That’s why it’s added at the last moment. Think pizzas and pasta. But you don’t want to be too classic, do you? Try to play with it a little to enliven your emotions towards the herb. What if you soak it in vinegar, for instance? Acid won’t destroy it immediately, on the contrary, you could make a nice preserve for your next pizza salad party. Go ahead and pickle basil leaves with 1:1 vinegar-water solution, some salt, sugar, and mustard seeds. Store it in the fridge, where it could last for quite a long time. But don’t hold it there too long. Grab some store-bought mayo (or whip up a batch yourself at home), puree your pickled basil with a dash of its pickling solution, and then simply mix some mayonnaise with blended basil. Grate some parmesan and add to the mixture. Look at that with love, because you’ll be looking at basil-parmesan mayo! Lovely it is. It’s a luscious, creamy, and decadent sauce that will nicely marry with any roasted veggies and meats.
One more thing to ponder. If basil beautifully combines with mozzarella, why not try it in other dairy-driven dishes? Savory or even sweet. Think basil mousse. Grind it with sugar, heat with some white chocolate and milk, let steep and then beat and mix in some gelatin. And, voila, you’ve got a nice refreshing spring mousse. Decorate it with fruits or berries. If you are a proud owner of an ice cream maker, you can also steep some basil leaves in cream or milk prior to creating a new layer of flavor that will then appear in your ice cream. This is a great way to preserve the gentle and delicate nature of your royal herb.