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Information for Basil
Basil comes from a plant family of mints, Ocimum basilicum, with an extremely fragrant scent. It is an annually grown plant whose leaves are commonly used as seasoning for a variety of foods. Sometimes, the leaves taste like Anise (see page on "Anise Seed") which is strong and sweet depending on the species and selective breeding. Basil is widely used in Italian cooking and one of the most distinguishable herbs around.
While Basil is a plant native to India, the name "basil" hails from the Greek word "king". This established its moniker as "King of the Herbs". Throughout history, Basil is believed to be used as a noble balm or placed in a therapeutic bath for royalties. Another common name of Basil is Sweet Basil. There are more than 160 varieties of basil and each has an individual characteristic in taste and appearance.
In cooking, Basil is often used fresh. The leaves are sliced, torn, cut, or used whole mostly in salads, meat, and especially pasta dishes. A common dish served with basil is the Italian pesto pasta where the ingredients include fresh basil, garlic cloves, pine nuts, and olive oil pulsed together to make a sauce for the pasta. Basil flower buds are also safe to eat as they have a subtle and sweet flavor.
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