Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Power of Herbs - Basil

Basil is the herb I most associate with summer and Italian cooking, maybe because it pairs so well with fresh-picked garden tomatoes. In fact, it is often a companion plant of tomatoes and I’ve found it grows like a weed. It does wilt and lose its flavor quickly, though, so it should be used soon after harvesting.

In continuing with the theme of this week, basil is another antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It produces several volatile oils that inhibit the growth of bacteria including E. Coli, Pseudomonas, and Listeria. This site lists some interesting medicinal uses for basil.

In addition, the flavonoids in basil protect cells from oxidative damage and beta-carotene (vitamin A) and magnesium help to keep the epithelial lining of our blood vessels healthy and relaxed.

Like most of the herbs posted here this week, basil has a strong nutritional profile. Two teaspoons of dried basil provide the following:

% Daily Value

Vitamin K 60

Iron 7

Calcium 6

Vitamin A 6

Manganese 4

Magnesium 3

Vitamin C 3

Potassium 3

Fiber 5

Some classic ways to use basil include:

  • As a main ingredient in pesto
  • Layered with sliced summer tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, then drizzled with olive oil
  • In tomato sauces or ratatouille

If you’ve got additional good uses for basil, share them here!!

No comments:

Post a Comment