Basil is one of the best-known and most popular herbs in the world and has become an integral part of any kitchen. The Italian dishes in particular are characterised by its aroma and the striking appearance of its large round leaves. What would Italian pasta be without a rich green basil pesto? Or a mozzarella pizza without the decorative green basil leaves? One thing is clear: basil gives every meal that extra something and a Mediterranean flair. But because it is so versatile, the kitchen spice can also be combined well with other dishes.
The name basil comes from the Greek and means "royal medicinal plant", which is why it is also called royal herb or royal balm. The Ocimum basilisum likes it particularly warm and humid, which is why it originates in the tropics of Africa and Asia. However, an exact place of origin can no longer be determined, since the plant was already cultivated by the Egyptians as an aromatic, medicinal and ornamental plant, but is also already part of numerous Greek folk tales. Meanwhile one can find the different plant species all over the world.
Basil is part of a large family. Besides the most famous member of the basil plant family Ocimum basilisum, his Greek siblings (Ocimum minimum) and Indian siblings (Ocimum sanctum) are also very popular.
The different varieties mainly differ in the shape, size and colour of their leaves. Small-leaved basil species are particularly aromatic, but are not suitable for outdoor cultivation due to their need for heat. Here are a few examples:
• fine-leaved basil
• Red-leaved basil (Dark Opal)
• Horapa (Thai basil)
• cinnamon basil
• aniseed basil
• Neapolitan basil
• lemon basil
With its large round leaves, basil is very striking. It is hard to believe that the labiate is also related to herbs such as rosemary and sage.
With its mediterranean note, basil is an essential ingredient in any Italian cuisine!
The strong-smelling plant can be described as sweet-spicy and pleasantly biting peppery in taste. If you dry its leaves, it loses a large part of its taste and becomes a little harsher. Basil leaves are often used as a pepper substitute because of their sharp note, which is why it is also called "German pepper".
Aromatic basil can be used in many ways. Whether fresh, dried, rubbed or freeze-dried - it goes well with many dishes such as salads, soups, vegetables, meat and fish. However, it is unbeatable when used with tomatoes.
A small hint: basil is never cooked with the food - this destroys the aroma. Always add the basil to your dishes at the end of cooking time.
In addition, basil is a good source of vitamin K, calcium, iron and beta-carotene.