Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Ingredient

Basil

dark opal basil

Save to Recipe Box
Print
Add Private Note
Saved Add to List

    Add to List

Print
Add Recipe Note

What is it?

A fragrant, tender herb, basil has a distinct flavor that includes hints of licorice, cloves, and mint. Sweet Genovese basil, with its large, satiny green and fragrant leaves is the most familiar variety. Used widely in Mediterranean cooking, it’s often used to flavor tomato sauce for pasta. Indeed, this summertime favorite perhaps pairs most famously with tomatoes. Thai basil has small pointy leaves and purple stems (and flowers), and its heady, sweet peppery aroma has strong notes of anise and licorice, perfect for Asian curries. Opal basil has striking, dark-purple leaves, and a milder flavor than sweet basil, with hints of cinnamon, anise, mint, and clove. It’s a beautiful accent to salads or other uncooked summer dishes, either in addition to or in place of sweet basil. Other varieties of basil, which you may see at farmer’s markets, include cinnamon, lemon, lime, dwarf bush, and miniature purple.

Kitchen math:

1/2 oz. basil leaves = about 1/2 cup lightly packed

How to choose:

Choose basil that looks freshly picked with no wilting or blackened leaves.

How to prep:

This sun-loving herb is vigorous in the garden but once cut, it’s fragile and susceptible to bruising, so careful handling is a must. A sharp knife really does make all the difference: The less you mash, the less you’ll damage the leaf. If it’s appropriate for your recipe, and you have the time, gently tearing the leaves instead of cutting them reduces the bruising.

How to store:

Keep the stems of cut basil in a jar of water in a cool spot in the kitchen, as if it were a bouquet of flowers. With regular changes of water, basil will keep for three to five days like this. If you must refrigerate basil, keep it in the jar and cover the leaves loosely with a plastic bag (preferably a thicker type, like a heavy-duty zip-top bag). If you get basil from the store that’s been refrigerated in a plastic box or bag, you should leave it in that packaging.

    Recipes

  • Recipe

    Ricotta-Basil Pancakes with Blistered Tomatoes

    Creamy ricotta, juicy tomatoes, and fresh basil make a winning flavor combination in this delicate pancake. If your ricotta is very wet, drain it in a sieve for 20 minutes…

  • Recipe

    Spicy Pasta Alla Norma

    This Sicilian classic, made with sautéed eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and red pepper flakes, is Italian comfort food at its best.

  • Recipe

    Pasta with Sausage, Radicchio, and Green Olives

    Cocktail olives give this pasta welcome bursts of sweet and briny flavor that perfectly balance the subtle bitterness of the radicchio.

  • Recipe

    Basic Tomato and Bread Salad

    This take on a classic Tuscan panzanella features both fresh and sun-dried tomatoes.

  • Recipe

    Grilled Farmers’ Market Pasta

    A colorful mix of garden-fresh vegetables gets a simple treatment (a toss with garlic, basil, and cheese) after grilling to let their flavors shine.

  • Recipe

    Rice Noodle Salad with Avocado, Mango, and Chile

    This cool noodle salad is just what you want on a hot summer night. A great vegetarian main, it would also be tasty with grilled shrimp or scallops. For best…

  • Recipe

    Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato, Ginger, and Basil Pasta

    Though a cream sauce doesn’t sound like hot-weather fare, a burst of basil and a hit of fresh ginger brighten the light and silky sauce. Because fresh pasta is very…

  • Recipe

    Mixed Herb Pesto

    This is the perfect pesto to make when you have extra herbs on hand or an herb garden that’s working overtime. Delicious tossed with boiled potatoes, use it as you…

  • Recipe

    Tomato and Ricotta Pesto

    This simple pesto packs bold tomato flavor. Use it to perk up green beans, or toss with pasta.

  • Recipe

    Potato-Ricotta Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce and Basil

    Tender and more rich than regular potato gnocchi, these simple dumplings hold together really well thanks to the egg but are super light. They go well with just about any…

Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Delicious Dish

Find the inspiration you crave for your love of cooking

Fine Cooking Magazine

Subscribe today
and save up to 44%

Already a subscriber? Log in.

Videos

View All

Moveable Feast Logo

Season 4 Extras

Bonus Scene: Bee Farm in Greenough, Montana

Montana's wall-to-wall grass and wildflowers make it the perfect place to raise bees and harvest honey. In this extended scene from Season 4's Greenough, Montana, episode, we visit beekeeper Sam…

View all Moveable Feast recipes and video extras

Connect

Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks