Basil, also known as Holy Basil, is a part of the mint family. A favorite of gardeners and cooks everywhere, basil boasts many health benefits, including reducing high blood sugar, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and the risks of some cancers. The herb also contains vital minerals and nutrients like calcium, vitamin A, beta carotene, lutein, and vitamin K.
A culinary herb, basil pairs well with just about everything: try it with tomatoes, strawberries, apricots, vanilla ice cream (yes, really), and even pineapples. Add it to flavor rice, pasta, quinoa, chicken, pork, fish, sauces, salads, soups, stir-fries, vegetables, bread, and more. Top a pizza with basil after removing it from the oven. Muddle a few leaves in your next Mojito, Martini, or sweet tea. Mix it with oil and parmesan cheese for bread dipping at dinner. Oh, and yes, use it to create the best pesto ever.
Several varieties of basil are grown worldwide. ‘Sweet Basil’ is most commonly found in the U.S., but Thai, Lemon, and Cinnamon Basil are readily available, making this herb a delight for creative cooks. Cut the leaves close to the stem and more will grow back in their place. Nip off the flowers before they bloom for more flavorful leaves. Bring your basil indoors before the first frost to continue your harvest into late fall and early winter.
Basil is one of the healthiest additions to almost everyone’s diet, although health professionals have noted vitamin K as a concern for people taking blood clotting medications. Check with your doctor before consuming basil if you take these medicines or if you have any food-borne allergies. Besides that, you should add this healthy herb with anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and antioxidant benefits to your meals whenever you can.
This easy-to-make basic vinaigrette incorporates basil as a healthy addition. Use it as a salad dressing or a marinade for fish or chicken. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed jar for up to 5 days, shaking to re-blend ingredients before use.
Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp. Honey
1 Clove Garlic
½ Cup Fresh Basil (packed)
¼ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice (About 1 Large Lemon)
¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar (Or Substitute Apple Cider Vinegar)
¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Tsp Salt
¼ Tsp Pepper
½ Tsp Paprika
Wash basil leaves and pat dry. Measure and combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender. Blend until smooth. Add salt, pepper, or honey to taste. Serve and enjoy! Visit www.tasteofcandy.com for more Tasty Garden Goodness.