Buying, Storing, Cooking
Buying, Storing, Cooking

Basil - Cooking with Basil

Nutritional values
Rich in calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin A and C.

Depending on the variety, basil has hints of lemon, anise, thyme, jasmine or ginger; the fresh leaves of large or dwarf basil have suggestions of cloves; Thai basil has the most character.
It is best to buy basil fresh instead of dried since it quickly loses its flavour.
The leaves should be green, smooth and not blemished or yellowed.

Fresh: keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
It has a tendency to blacken, so it may instead be kept in olive oil for months.
Frozen: Place chopped herbs into an ice-cube tray and cover with water.

Closely associated with southern climes and sunny holidays, basil is renowned for its role in Italian, Mediterranean and Thai cooking. It enhances the flavour of veal, chicken, lamb, pork and rabbit. It adds zest to pasta and rice dishes, tomatoes, eggs, soups and cheese. It pairs perfectly with garlic, lemon, thyme or olive oil. It adds character to grilled dishes, vegetables such as mushrooms, vinaigrettes and sour-cream based sauces. It is a welcome flavour in salads, soups and fish terrines and is indispensable in many regional recipes.

It is preferable to add basil at the last minute since it does not stand up to long cooking. The same goes for salads, since it wilts quickly when exposed to vinaigrette.

Young leaves are sweeter than the larger, lower leaves; they can be used to cut the acidity of tomatoes, lemon or vinegar.

To enhance a soup, stew or tomato sauce, nothing equals basil, which has been crushed with a mortar and pestle to release its full flavour.

Don't forget to place a branch of basil in your vinegar bottle to create a flavourful treat.

France - Pistou - a condiment from Provence, made of fresh basil crushed with garlic and olive oil

Italy - Pesto - a condiment from Genoa, like the French Pistou with parmesan cheese

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