Basil is a well-known culinary herb with a surprising number of uses. Here are some of the most popular uses for basil:
- In Italian dishes. It is traditionally used in tomato sauce, pesto, pizzas, or vinegars. It is usually added as one of the last steps of the recipe; cooking can destroy its taste. If a recipe calls for tomato, you can safely add basil to add a unique taste. Pesto is one of the most popular uses for basil. Just place a few cups of basil leaves and a little olive oil into a food processor. Add more olive oil slowly until it becomes a runny paste. Then add Parmesan cheese, garlic, and pine nuts or walnuts.
- As a digestion aid. A basil tonic is an herbal remedy to aid in digestion. To make a tonic, steep the leaves in hot water, and then strain the mixture. Camphor Basil tea is said to help stomach aches. They may be used for other medicinal purposes, too. For example, Tree Basil leaf tea is used for colds and fevers.
- With vegetables. Basil can be sprinkled over salads and sliced tomatoes. It is especially popular with eggplants. If you have fresh basil, tear the leaves rather than chopping them. This will give them the most flavor in your dish. To make basil oil for a salad dressing, mix the torn leaves with a good salad or vegetable oil.
- In condiments. Basil butter, basil vinegar, and basil-infused olive oil can be used for salads or for dipping.
- To deter insects. In ancient times, bots of basil plants were kept on the windowsill to deter flies. Tree Basil leaves are burned to repel mosquitoes. Throw a handful of basil onto the coals or wood chips of your barbecue to deter mosquitoes while you’re grilling your dinner. It will also impart a delicious herbal taste to the chicken, fish, or vegetables you are grilling.
- In a hot bath. Put fresh leaves in a hot bath as an herbal infusion.
- For fragrance or in sachets. There are many varieties of basil, each with their own unique fragrance. For example, Lemon Basil has an intense lemon-like fragrance. Camphor Basil in sachets will protect wool when placed in your drawers.
Look through any cookbook, and you are sure to find more uses for basil. Although it is best used fresh, dried basil can also be used for many of these purposes. However, dried basil does lose much of its flavor. It can also be combined with oregano or other herbs. This versatile herb can be used just about anywhere.