Beautiful, Healthy Basil
Basil was found growing around Christ’s tomb after the resurrection, and it has been used in the preparation of holy water in the Greek Orthodox church. Pots of basil are kept around the church alters. In some cultures it was feared that scorpions would grow under pots of basil and that smelling the aroma would cause scorpions to grow in the brain! WOW!! These are creative folklore but the truth is basil is incredibly beneficial and is a stunning plant in the landscape.
Basil is a popular herb in Italian cooking, particularly in pesto. This fragrant and flavorful herb, a relative of peppermint, is an excellent nutritious addition to your pasta sauce, soup, or salad. There are many varieties available here is Texas and my favorites are Sweet, Purple, Thai and Globe. Not only are these herbs delicious, they are beautiful flowering plants that make an awesome addition to your garden, not just your herb beds. Basil will also re-seed freely so it will re-plant itself each year. I use copious amounts in my cooking, with fresh tomato salads, or with Mozzarella Cheese and olive oilHere is some great info I found on the amazing benefits of this herb;
An array of flavonoids exist in basil, which help to protect cells and chromosomes from damage. Studies have shown that two of these flavonoids in particular, orientin and vicenin, are useful in protecting cell structures and chromosomes from damage by radiation and oxygen.
Essential oil made of basil has been shown to inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria, many of which have become resistant to antibiotics. This essential oil has been found to inhibit growth of the widespread staphylococcus, enterococcus, pseudomonas, and e. coli bacteria, among others. Adding basil to your vinaigrette will both enhance the flavor, and ensure that the fresh salad greens are safe to eat.
Eugenol, which is also found in the essential oil of basil provides an anti-inflammatory effect by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. Aspirin and Ibuprofen work by blocking this same enzyme. So, basil can have healing benefits, and provide relief from the symptoms of inflammatory problems, like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions.
Basil is also a good source of vitamin A, which helps to prevent damage to the cells by free radicals. Vitamin A also prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream, preventing the cholesterol from building up in the blood vessels.
Magnesium is also present in basil. This essential mineral helps the heart and blood vessels to relax, improving blood flow. Other nutrients found in basil include iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.
The fresh, spicy flavor and scent of basil will wake up any boring salad or soup. Use fresh basil whole, or shredded to add a burst of flavor to your dinner. If you are using fresh basil in a cooked dish, add it towards the end of cooking, so that the volatile oils will not be dissipated by the heat.
Insalata Caprice is a simple salad you can enjoy with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, and olive oil.
1/2 pound, fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick.
2 large tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick.
1 cup fresh basil leaves.
salt and pepper
Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top
another love of mine is basil PESTO!
Fresh basil is excellent on pizza and the pesto in place of red sauce is to die for!
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I prefer Walnuts)
- 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste