Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Pesto, the classic oil and herb sauce, may well have thrust basil into the modern day culinary limelight. But the herb, best known for its pronounced rich and peppery aroma and flavour, has been used in Mediterranean and Asian cooking for centuries.
Traditionally grown in warm climates, basil is very sensitive to cold conditions and is often cultivated under glass in Europe.
Basil makes a welcome addition to most meat, poultry and fish dishes and is a perfect partner to sliced, fresh tomatoes. When combined with seasoned oil and sauces it can deliver a bouquet of flavours and aromas all its own.
Basil contains many flavoursome, volatile oils that dissipate if exposed to prolonged heat. To maximise the intense flavour, add the herb (torn, not sliced), at the end of the cooking process.