BASIL IS MOOD FOOD
Throughout history, Basil has been used in many cultures for a wide variety of therapeutic purposes; to calm anxiety, to cure headaches, vertigo, nausea and upset stomaches, along with a whole host of other medicinal claims…
I’m willing to bet that if you start an herb garden, basil is one of the first herbs you’ll plant. The familiar sweet basil with glossy green leaves is most common. And that is the kind of basil that you’ll purchase when you buy dried basil.
Depending upon the type, basil can have a thyme/clove/anise/mint-like flavor with hints of cinnamon. Some of the basils include lettuce leaf, opal, African blue, cinnamon, ruffled,Thai, lemon and spicy globe basil with its tiny, pungent leaves. In India, people herald it as a sacred herb. Basil means “king” in Greek and it is considered the king of herbs in that country.
Basil is a sun-loving annual. Whether or not you grow in containers or in the ground, give it plenty of room to grow, at least a foot apart. Plant some next to your tomatoes to repel insects and diseases. Pinch flower heads off as they form (use in cooking) for healthy plants and a longer harvest.
COOKING WITH BASIL
This is a delicious accompaniment to grilled chicken, seafood or beef.
TOMATO BASIL SALAD WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR
On a platter, place thickly sliced tomatoes. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with chives or chopped green onions, if desired. Or add a sprinkling of garlic powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil, or garnish each slice with a whole leaf. Sometimes I’ll sprinkle on shredded low fat Mozzarella.
TOMATO BASIL NAPOLEONS
Cut tomatoes into thirds, horizontally. Drizzle the first 2 slices with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle each slice with fresh chopped basil. If you like, add a shake of garlic powder or fresh minced garlic and chopped green onions or onion chives. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish top with basil leaf.
TIPS FROM RITA’S KITCHEN:
Use sea salt instead of regular salt. Sea salt contains minerals, and to my palate, has more flavor so I tend to use less.
Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP, CMH, is a Certified Culinary Professional and Certfied Modern Herbalist, educator, author, founding editor of www.Abouteating.com a popular website that showcases her many interests in healthy living.