So you know that part in Alice in Wonderland when Alice sees what appears to be a common rabbit hole? She peers in, then falls and discovers a deep world filled with amazing, wondrous, unpredictable surprises? Basil is like the rabbit hole.
Yes, basil. It’s green, pungeant, fragrant and anchors the 8,000 equally delicious variations of a Caprese salad. We all know basil. But do we?
The First Peek
Here are three common assumptions about basil. All are true, but just peek a little bit deeper.
Basil is green, right? Yes, but not always. Depending on the cultivar it can be green, white, or purple.
Basil is one of Italian cuisine’s best friends. Certainly, but it’s also heartily embraced by Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cooks.
Basil has a pungeant, strong bite. If you had a basil banquet you’d discover subtle flavor notes of cinnamon, camphor, licorice (or anise), lemon, thyme, or clove. But not all at once.
Visiting Basil’s Wonderland
Now it’s time to discover the suprising world of basil. Basil’s wonderland really does exist and you can go there right at this very moment. Here are five places to put on your itinerary.
1. A Fantastic Garden
Enter a world of basil-saturated lushness at Ramona’s Basil Garden. Here you will discover details on the over 100 cultivars of basil along with everything you could possible need to know on growing basil. Because Ramona is such an ardent basil-phile and grows many species she has a cache of seeds. Best part: she gives these seeds away! Visit the Seed Give Away portion of her site to learn how to get your hands on these little gems.
2. Lemon Strawberry Basil Cupcake
Basil frosting. Need you read more? This is a mini cupcake which means you get two or three perfect bites of bliss. I’ll be honest, FingerSweets doesn’t reveal her recipes but she shares her flavors and what goes where. It may be enough to spark your own creation. Start here.
3. Strawberry balsamic Basil Spritzer
While we’re lingering in state of strawberry basil infatuation here’s another from a bright little blog called A Cozy Kitchen. A detailed recipe is there. Best thing about this is the syrup. You can add whatever drink you want, sparkling water or champagne. Nice.
4. Basil for Health
Basil tastes good and you know it’s healthy. But just how healthy? I’m sending you over to one of my favorite references, World’s Healthiest Foods. The description leans on the technical side which, in my opinion, validates the research. Or it may be enough to just know this: Basil has effective anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, DNA protection, and nutrients essential for cardiovascular health.
5. Basil Tea
Get your basil health in a drinkable form. I purchased some basil tea during a trip to Dominica, not for health but it sounded so interesting. It didn’t disappoint…it tastes just as you’d expect: a fresh sprig of basil in tea form. I don’t remember the name of the tea I purchased but here are two I found that are available online (click on the image or text):
What’s a list without a bonus item?
6. Basil Ice cream.
I checked no less than 10 entrees of basil ice cream. This recipe by Diggin’ Food was by far the most straightforward. It also gives you an option of adding the basil as a purée or steeping the basil so the ice cream stays white. Your choice. And c’mon…it’s July. And it’s National Ice Cream Month. No way was basil ice cream going to be left off the roster!
Oh heck, I’m on a roll let’s add one more.
7. Virtual Basil Conversation
TableFare and MySpiceSage host a monthly chat on Twitter, aptly named: SpiceChat. They generously compile and post the conversations here. You can cruise through and get instant access to the fun twists and turns all on the featured spice. Stay tuned because basil was recently featured and will be making its appearance soon.
Hope you enjoyed your voyage into the basil wonderland. Have any other basil destinations you care to share? Waiting with enthusiasm to hear from you!
Top basil picture: Mimi66 on Dreamstime.com
July 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm
What a great post! I adore basil and you have inspired other uses for this delightful herb. I have a large pot growning on my patio. Now I have some fun things to create over the weekend.
July 15, 2011 at 10:18 am
I love this post and I do love basil! I did a lime-basil sorbet last summer that was just delectable and am looking for other sweet dishes to make with the magic herb The strawberry balsamic basil spritzer sounds awesome!
July 15, 2011 at 10:58 am
Lime basil sorbet… how divine! Please include the link if you wish.
July 17, 2011 at 10:38 am
I can`t grow basil to save my life (my thumb is self-described as more black than green)…but there is a basil & garlic farm about a mile down the road that I visit regularly! The crop is a little slow this year with all of our crappy weather, but I can`t wait for basil ice cream (and now this sorbet!) Delicioius. Theresa
July 20, 2011 at 7:24 am
Very interesting. I was turned on to a basil smoothie and it opened my eyes to using herbs in sweeter applications. I too love Worlds Healthiest Foods, it’s a great resource. I love your blog, thanks for stopping by Foodtrainers.
July 20, 2011 at 9:26 am
Basil smoothie? I love the sounds of that! Can you share what went into it? Plain yogurt, honey…what else? (Besides basil of course.) Thanks for the compliment.