origin, benefits, cultivation and recipes – Gordon Ramsay’s version

basil properties and benefits

With the arrival of the beautiful season on our tables comes the basil which has an intense aroma and gives an excellent flavor to all our dishes, from pizza to pasta, including minestrone and salad.

This plant with very green leaves and an irresistible scent is not only very fragrant and delicious, but hides many beneficial properties for health

Basil: origin and variety

The basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a herbaceous plant native to the tropical areas of Asia and India, widespread throughout the world for its use in both culinary and medicinal fields.

The origin of the name “basil” has its roots in the Latin “basilicum”, which in turn dates back to the ancient Greek “basilikón phutón”, which means “royal plant” or “king’s plant”.

Belonging to the family of Lamiaceaethis plant is known for its bright green leaves, often used fresh to flavor a wide range of dishes.

What many don’t know is that there are different varieties of this aromatic plant, each with unique characteristics that influence appearance and flavor. Among the most common are:

  • Genoese basil – Also called giant, this variety has very large and very wide leaves. It is what is usually used to prepare the pesto sauce. This variety is a DOP product.
  • Neapolitan basil – The Neapolitan curly basil It has a real smell of mint with slightly smaller leaves it is summery and suitable for fish dishes.
  • Lemon basil – Characterized by a fresh lemon aroma, it is perfect for flavoring fish dishes and for giving a refreshing note to cocktails and summer drinks.
  • Basil Thai – With smaller leaves and a more intense flavor, this variety is often used in Thai cuisine, in dishes such as green curry and soups.
  • Cinnamon basil – With a scent reminiscent of cinnamon, the basil cinnamon adds an interesting twist to sweet dishes and desserts.
  • Greek basil – It has a more compact appearance, oval and small leaves (more similar to those of thyme) and a decidedly intense flavour.

Basil: properties and benefits

basil properties and benefits

In addition to its use in cooking, the basil offers a series of benefits for health thanks to its nourishing and medicinal properties. What is basil good for?

  • Rich in antioxidants: Contains a variety of antioxidant compounds, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which help fight oxidative stress in the body and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Anti-inflammatories: Compounds in essential oils, such as eugenol, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, useful in treating conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Antibacterial: Eugenol has also proven to be effective in the action of counteracting microbes and bacteria of the Staphylococcus and Enterococci genus among many others.
  • Immune system: Thanks to its content of vitamin C and other nutrients, it can help strengthen the immune system and protect the body from infections.

How to use basil in cooking

basil recipes

The basil it is incredibly versatile and can be used in a wide range of dishes, from starters to desserts. Here are some ideas:

  • Pesto – The pesto saucebased on basil fresh, pine nuts, garlic, cheese and olive oil, it is a classic of Italian cuisine, ideal for seasoning pasta or for flavoring sandwiches and bruschetta.
  • Salads and cold dishes – Just add fresh basil leaves to salads for a touch of freshness and colour. The combination of tomatoes is also excellent, mozzarella and basil for a traditional caprese salad.
  • Hot dishesYou can add the leaves towards the end of cooking to preserve their fresh and aromatic flavour. It is delicious in dishes such as risottos, sauces and soups.
  • Condiments and sauces – Not only basil pesto. The aromatic plant can be used to enrich condiments and sauces, such as sauce tomato with basil or basil flavored butter.
  • Sweets and desserts – It may seem strange to some, but the basil offers the opportunity to experiment with unusual sweet combinations in desserts such as ice cream, sorbet, fruit salads and cakes.

How many basil leaves can you eat per day? The basil He has not contraindications particular, given that the substances contained would only have negative effects if consumed in the order of more than 2 kg per day. So let’s go ahead and use it.

How to grow and grow lush basil

The success of basil to cultivation it is first of all linked to choosing a variety suitable for the local climate and preparing well-drained and fertile soil.

You can sow seeds directly into the soil after the last spring frost or transplant seedlings from a nursery after hardening them off.

How to care for a potted basil plant? You need to keep the soil moist and make sure the plants receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Pinch off branch tips regularly to promote compact growth and harvest leaves when plants are robust.

How to store basil

how to preserve basil 1

Basil embellishes summer recipes with a truly unique colourful, fragrant and inviting touch. Yet it loses its characteristics with the arrival of the cold.

Anyone who doesn’t want to give up herbs even in winter should learn how to preserve basil for the winter impeccably.

Store fresh basil

Let’s start to understand how to store fresh basil short term (1 week): choose the greenest leaves and place the bunch in a container full of water (if it has roots) away from light or wrap the stems with slightly wet kitchen paper and place it in the upper part of the fridge .

Freeze the leaves in the freezer

The easiest and fastest way to preserve basil is to freeze the leaves in the freezer. This way it will be possible to use it in the kitchen throughout the year. In this case how to preserve basil?

All you need to do is wash the basil leaves, pat them dry with a clean cloth and let them dry on a baking tray lined with foil.

Immediately afterwards it is necessary to put the tray in the freezer for a couple of hours and then divide the portions into food bags or airtight containers.

In short, nothing new. Let’s say that how to store basil in the freezer it’s one of the first tricks you learn.

Store fresh basil in salt

Maybe not everyone knows how store fresh basil in salt, yet this method ensures the preservation of basil leaves for a long time.

Simply wash and dry the basil leaves and place them in an already sterilized airtight jar: arrange the leaves, pour in the fine salt and proceed in this way (concluding with the salt).

At this point you need to crush the layers with the back of a teaspoon, close carefully and store the jar in a cool, dry place.

Actually know how to preserve salted basil it is not enough to obtain an excellent result as you must be careful to add salt after each use and not to flavor the recipe too much.

Store the leaves in oil

Know how to preserve basil in oil it brings with it the advantage of always having a perfect base available for preparing basil pesto.

Just wash, dry and chop (optional) the basil leaves, pour in EVO oil and a little salt and transfer everything into sterilized glass jars with airtight closures. Close and place them in the fridge or freezer.

When you decide to use this type of preparation for pesto then you need to take out the mixture and season with garlic, pine nuts and cheese. Be careful to consume it within a few weeks.

Store the dried leaves

Another trick for store the basil for the colder months is to give life to the drying process. It is one of the most long-lasting methods. So how to store dried basil?

All you need to do is dry the basil: extract the leaves with a few centimeters of stem, wash with running water and dry them with a dry cloth.

At this point it is necessary to tie the leaves with kitchen string, hang the bunches on a hook and leave to dry for at least 10 days in a dry place exposed to the sun, but not subject to drafts.

Alternatively you can dry the basil by placing the leaves on a baking tray lined with baking paper and placing them in a preheated oven at 50 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

At the end it will be necessary to collect the bunches, break up the basil with your hands and transfer the chopped mixture to a spice rack.

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