Basil (ocimum basilicum) is one of my all time favorite herbs. A native to India, basil first arrived to Europe in the 16th century. Today, it is among the most popular and widely grown culinary herbs. Basil is also known for its many health benefits, such as combating colds/flu and serving as an anti-stress agent. To top it off, basil is also known to boost memory function! Oh…I forgot to mention, basil’s flavor is outstanding!
Basil is a foundation plant in our herb garden. It is an extremely easy annual to grow. In fact, for those of you wishing you had room for a garden, you don’t need one for basil. I grow a few basil plants our kitchen windowsill, all winter long…in Michigan! Each time the leaves are pinched off for use, new ones emerge. This plant will last you for months with a little water, sunshine and love! Find a small pot, some seed starting soil and a few basil seeds and you are ready to go!
One of my favorite uses for basil is creating pesto! Enjoy this traditional pesto recipe:
Traditional Basil Pesto
- 3 C freshly packed basil
- 1/3 C pine nuts
- 1/3 C olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 C parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- Food process the basil leaves
- Add the pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and parmesan
- Process all of the ingredients together
- The pesto should be smooth and creamy
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Spoon pesto into small, glass containers.
- Pesto will last for 5-7 days in the refrigerator
- Note: If you choose to make numerous batches for freezing, add a thin layer of olive oil to the top of each jar before sealing. This helps retain moisture during the freezing process. Also, make sure you leave 1/4 inch of headroom for expansion.
- I enjoy using pesto with angel hair pasta, baked chicken breast and as a grilled pizza sauce. Enjoy!
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