Basil Crete, Ocimum basilicum
Wild basil, Ocimum basilicum, is also called king herb, soup basil, or brain herb. Back then, they said that only rulers were allowed to harvest it. They celebrated a mystical ritual during the harvest. The weed was a symbol of fertility for the Romans whereby the Egyptians embalmed their dead, and for the Indians, it is still sacred today.
How does wild basil taste?
Basil not only tastes fresh, spicy-sweet but also a little peppery with light anise flavors. You use your leaves either fresh or dried for seasoning.
Which Herbs and Spices Can You Combine with Basil?
Basil is a versatile herb that pairs well with a variety of spices and flavors. Here are some spices that complement basil nicely:
- Oregano: Oregano and basil are both staples in many Italian dishes. They complement each other well, imparting a robust flavor to pizzas, pastas, and other Mediterranean dishes.
- Thyme: Thyme has an earthy, slightly citrusy flavor that pairs well with basil. This combination works well in soups, stews, and roasted vegetables.
- Rosemary: Rosemary and basil can be used together in many Italian meat dishes. Also, when combined with olive oil, garlic, and lemon, they create an aromatic blend.
- Marjoram: Marjoram has a mild, sweet aroma that complements the slightly spicy taste of basil. This combination works especially well in soups and stews.
- Garlic: Garlic is a strong flavor that pairs well with basil. This combination is a classic in many Italian dishes. And here's a surprise addition: black garlic.
- Chili or Pepper: A slight spiciness can add depth to the flavor of basil. Chili or black pepper are good options to add some spice.
- Fennel Seeds: Fennel seeds have a sweet, slightly anise-like flavor that complements basil nicely. This combination works well for tomato-based dishes and soups.
- Lemon: Lemon zest or fresh lemon juice can add a refreshing note to basil. This combination pairs well with fish, chicken, and salads.
It's important to note that the best combination of spices often depends on personal preferences and the specific dish you're working on. So feel free to experiment and discover which combinations you like best!
How do you use basil?
Basil is an essential spice in Italian cuisine, and it refines a simple tomato salad, tomato - mozzarella, margarita pizza, and also salads. This excellent herb is the main ingredient to make the famous pesto alla Genovese. Put some soft butter, one clove of garlic crushed, breadcrumbs, grated lemon peel, salt, pepper, and one teaspoon of Ocimum basilicum, well mixed under the skin of a chicken before cooking in the oven. Simply delicious.
Its aroma also harmonizes with a sardine carpaccio.
It also flavors veal and lamb, or fish such as scallops and seafood. In general, it goes well with the following dishes: tomatoes, salads, salad dressings, as a pesto for pasta, eggplants, peas, eggs, potatoes, cheese, cucumber, curd cheese, olives, and rice.
You can also make yourself a king herb tea: pour 1 tsp of the herb in a cup with boiling water. It calms, is diaphoretic and expectorant.
Good to know
Add dried basil about 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, and its aroma increases when cooking.
Ocimum basilicum- its origin
The Ocimum basilicum originally comes from the Middle East and came via Asia to Egypt and thus spread across the Mediterranean. The plant belongs to the Lamiaceae -lip family and is an annual herb. Even today, Ocimum basilicum grows in harmony with nature, and the island Crete offers excellent soil and ideal sun exposure.