From Laos to Italy, basil is one of the world’s most popular culinary herbs. But where does it come from? Keep reading to learn more about basil, from its origins to some ways to use it.
Where Does Basil Come From?
Scientists believe that basil (scientific name Ocimum basilicum) originated in India thousands of years ago. It was brought from India to Europe in the 16th century and from there to America in the 17th century.
Nowadays, basil is grown in most countries with warm weather and is an important ingredient of the culinary tradition of many countries including Italy, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. Some of the current varieties of basil include lemon basil, Italian basil, and lettuce-leaf basil.
If you wonder how important basil was in ancient times, you just have to look up the origins of its name. “Basil” comes from Greek “basilikos,” which means “royal,” or “worthy of a king.” In keeping with this tradition, one of the names for basil in French is “Royal herbe”
Some Suggestions to Use Basil
If you love basil, here are some suggestions to use it more often. Some options are classic like pesto, while others are more playful and creative:
- On top of pizza
- In salads
- In sandwiches
- In salsa verde
- In soups
- In marinades
- In cakes (yes, basil goes well with desserts too, particularly when lemon is involved!)
The best part? Not only will you enjoy some tasty meals, but will also stock up on essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin A, beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, lutein, and vitamin K. It also contains antioxidants that help combat oxidative stress, a process linked to many ailments.
To store fresh basil, first remove the leaves from the stems. Wash the leaves, dry them, wrap them in a paper towel, and place them in a plastic bag. Store the bag in the fridge: the basil should stay good for up to two weeks.
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