Basil Recipe & Nutrition | Precision Nutrition's Encyclopedia of Food

Basil

Basil

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At a Glance

Basil is a bright green herb with a sweet-savory taste known for its use in Italian cooking. Seasonal during summertime, basil grows in big, leafy bunches. It’s not only packed with flavor, basil also offers loads of potassium, as well as Vitamin A, folate, and iron. Add basil leaves to salads or sandwiches, or blitz basil into pesto sauce, which makes a great condiment for grilled meats.

Overview

Basil is an herb that belongs to the mint family. In Western cooking (particularly Italian cuisine), the most common variety is sweet basil, also known as Genovese basil. It has a sweet-savory flavor with hints of licorice and mint.

Thai basil, lemon basil, and holy basil are other varieties of the same family, which are more common in Asia.

Like many herbs, basil can be found dried or fresh. This entry concentrates on fresh sweet basil.

Identification

Basil is a bright green plant, with large pointed leaves and thin stalks. It grows in big, leafy bunches.

Nutrition Info

A quarter cup of fresh basil has 1.0 calories, 0.19g of protein, 0.04g of fat, 0.16g of carbohydrates, 0.1g of fiber, and 0.02g of sugar.

Basil is an excellent source of potassium (18 mg in a 1/4 cup). It’s also a good source of manganese, copper, vitamin A, folate, and iron.

Selection

Basil is seasonal in summertime but it can usually be purchased year-round. You may find it in packages or bundled loose in the produce section of your grocery store.

Choose bright green, fragrant leaves with no signs of wilting or blackening.

For the freshest basil, try growing it yourself! Starter plants may be available at your local nursery or grocery store during the spring and summer months.

Storage

Basil is best eaten as soon as possible after picking.

If you’re going to eat the basil within a couple days, you can keep it on your kitchen countertop in a glass or pitcher of water, as you would fresh cut flowers. Change the water daily, and keep the basil out of direct sunlight.

If keeping the basil for longer you can store it in the fridge, in a loose, open plastic bag or the container you purchased it in.

Preparation

Wash basil well in cool water. (If the basil is very dirty, place it in a large bowl and cover it with cool water. Swish the basil around to release the dirt. Pull the basil out of the water, rinse the bowl, and repeat until all the dirt and grit is gone.)

Pinch the basil leaves off of the stems. You can then tear the basil with your hands or slice it thinly with your knife.

If you’re slicing the basil, try this trick: stack a bunch of leaves onto each other, and roll them up with your fingers to create a tight tube. Then cut across the leaves horizontally with your knife to create thin slivers. This is known as a chiffonade and is excellent as a garnish.

Take note that basil can bruise easily and turn black. To avoid this, tear gently with your fingers or slice carefully with a sharp knife.

Basil is best eaten fresh. In cooking, basil will wilt and lose its best flavor, so add it at the end of recipes when possible.

One of the most popular preparations of basil is pesto: an Italian sauce / condiment made of fresh basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil.

Recipe: Pesto Genovese

Basil

Perfect for a quick weeknight pasta, this traditional pesto recipe will be a sure hit with your friends and family. Pair it with a green salad and a big side of veggies for a flavourful and nutritious meal.

Ingredients

basil leaves, packed
2 cups
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup
parmigiano reggiano cheese
1/4 cup
pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp
garlic
1 clove
kosher salt
1 tsp

Directions

Prep Time: 10 minutes   Cook Time: 0 minutes   Yield: 4 servings

In a blender, combine oil, garlic, salt, and pine nuts. Blend until combined. Add the basil in batches, pulsing and stopping every few moments to scrape the sides with a spatula.

Transfer into a bowl. Fold in the cheese until combined.

Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Makes enough Pesto to dress 1 pound (1 package) pasta.

Enjoy!

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At a Glance

Basil is a bright green herb with a sweet-savory taste known for its use in Italian cooking. Seasonal during summertime, basil grows in big, leafy bunches. It’s not only packed with flavor, basil also offers loads of potassium, as well as Vitamin A, folate, and iron. Add basil leaves to salads or sandwiches, or blitz basil into pesto sauce, which makes a great condiment for grilled meats.