Tips for Cooking with Basil

Basil goes well with any type of tomato dish, whether it is hot or cold.
Other suggestions for using basil in the kitchen are:

  • Sprinkle over garlic bread
  • Stir in, fresh or dried, to your favorite soups.
  • Toss torn basil over a tomato and mozzarella salad.
  • Add to stir-fried vegetables.
  • Use in a marinade with garlic and olive oil.
  • Wrap large leaves around pieces of cheese for appetizers.
  • Add finely chopped basil to softened butter. Spice it up with minced garlic and parmesan cheese for a true gourmet spread.
  • Chop fresh basil and garlic and grind into olive oil to make a deliciously healthy sauce (pistou).
  • Place a few whole leaves in a fresh pitcher of iced tea for a refreshing (and pretty!) garnish.

Culinary Trends

The common trend for 2010 seems to be a return of families cooking together and eating at home more than they have in decades, with a premium on high quality, seasonal, local ingredients that represent both good value and an emphasis on simple food. Noodle bars are the new Sushi joints due to their low cost and versatility as raw fish prices get even higher.

Basil Tips:

  • Tear, rather than cut basil to prevent bruising of the leaves. This keeps the leaves greener longer, otherwise they tend to turn brown.
  • Basil tends to turn black when cooked in acid mediums such a tomato sauces so add basil towards the end of cooking or right before serving to preserve the fresh green color and taste.
  • Use basil's leaves, not the stems, for better flavor and texture.
  • If you have to substitute dried basil for fresh, it is approximately one third the amount. And vice-versa—if using fresh rather than dried pesto in a recipe, triple the amount of fresh. A good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon dried basil is the equivalent of 1 tablespoon fresh basil.

(Note: Dried basil will not give you the same quality and intensity of flavor as fresh basil.)

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