Basil is by far the boss of all plants in the kitchen. It’s super fragrant, super delicious and a super versatile herb. And it also means ‘royal plant’ (the name “basil” comes from the Latin basilius).
Usually, we refer to the classic sweet green basil. And some of us also remember the purple one. But there is so much to be known and admired.
Basil comes in various colours and flavours
Take dark opal basil. It was developed and grown in the 1950s in the USA. This type is known for its high content of anthocyanins.
Then there’s camphor basil with its strong and pungent flavor. African blue basil is the hybrid variety of the latter and the former. Cinnamon or Mexican spice basil with its more nuanced spicy flavour reminiscent of cinnamon. Or sweet Dani basil with its strong lemon scent.
The list goes on and on. In fact, there are so many basil varieties that we must admit we actually know little about this herb. At least from a botanical perspective, we have not much of a clue. Yet, of course, we know a thing or two about it as a cooking ingredient. Let’s herb your enthusiasm!
Basil for an uplifting salad
And the first recipe is a clean and refreshing tomato salad. Place 10 g / ½ cup of fresh basil in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add 80 ml / ⅓ cup of oil in a thin, steady stream and pulse until smooth. Then transfer to a bowl.
Add roughly 1 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tsp of sugar, a pinch of salt and mix well until combined. Now prepare the tomatoes. Wash and slice, then arrange them on a serving platter. Drizzle with basil dressing and sprinkle with extra leaves.
Basil with a supporting comrade
Even basil can play on its own it needs, like every other royalty, a reliable entourage.
In the next recipe, we see rocket salad in that supporting role. You need 1 pack of rocket, 10 g / ½ cup of fresh basil and 75 g / ½ cup of cashews. For the taste get 1 red (chopped and seeded) chili, 2 chopped garlic clove, and finely grated rind of 1 lemon.
Put everything in a food processor and run it until you get the desired consistency. We want it to be smooth. Then add 60 ml / ¼ cup of olive oil in a thin stream and continue pulsing the processor until the mixture is velvety.
Transfer the resulting dip into a plate. Sprinkle with extra chopped cashews, thinly sliced chilis and some olive oil. Serve with toasted flatbread and enjoy.