August Featured Produce: Basil

Basil-1Basil is a highly fragrant culinary herb commonly used in Italian cuisine. In fact, basil was enjoyed so much by the early Romans, they embraced it as the symbol of love and fertility.

There are many varieties of basil. The green Italian variety, the most popular and well known, is often referred to as sweet basil, which has a distinctive and pleasant anise-like taste. Purple basil is similar in flavor to sweet basil, but more intense. Other varieties include Thai basil and holy basil, which are often used in Southeast Asian cuisines, and have a licorice and clove-like flavor. Lemon basil, in contrast to its counterparts, has a distinctive lemon flavor and is widely used in Indonesian cuisine. It adds a nice zesty flavor to fish.

Basil contains no fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars or proteins.  It’s an excellent source of Vitamin K and a good source of niacin, Vitamin A, C, iron, and zinc.

Whenever possible, use fresh basil instead of the dry, lifeless confetti that comes in spice jars, to fully enjoy the superior flavor of fresh basil. Add basil at the end of cooking. Larger leaf basil can be added to salads and used as a salad green.

Basil is also very easy to grow basil in a container or in your garden. That way, you always have a fresh supply –simply pinch off the leaves as needed. Basil seedlings and plants are available at the farmers markets.

How to Select: Chose fresh basil that has a clean fragrance and a bright color without any wilting or leaves with brown tip.

How to Store: Store fresh basil with a damp paper towel in a plastic bag for up to three days. You can also freeze basil to use later in the year. Blanch whole leaves in boiling water for two seconds, plunge immediately into ice water and pat leaves dry. Store in airtight freezer bags. Frozen basil should be used within four months. You can also mix chopped leaves of fresh with enough olive oil to bind them together and then freeze small portions in ice cube trays. When a recipe calls for fresh basil, just pop them out of the ice cube tray.

You’ll find basil at Route 1, Coke Farm and KT Farms

RECIPES: Garlic, Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Bruschetta, Orange Basil Vinaigrette, Melon Cucumber Salad with Lemon Basil VinaigrettePesto Cheese Torta, Classic Basil Pesto, Tomato Mozzarella Tart with Basil Garlic Crust, Fresh Basil Vinaigrette, Strawberry Caprese with Basil Syrup, How to Make Basil Oil, Stir Fried Kabocha with Tofu and Basil, Pan Seared Fish with Basil Purée

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