Basil, essential for flavoring summer tomato salads

An essential herb for flavoring summer tomato salads, basil has many other culinary and nutritional benefits.

Basil, essential for flavoring summer tomato salads
Basil, essential for flavoring summer tomato salads

Basilisk Identity Card

The Basilic, The basiliskis an annual aromatic plant, native to the tropical regions of Asia, belonging to the Lamiaceae family.

If it was already used in Antiquity, it was more for cosmetic purposes (such as the preparation of precious perfumes), pharmaceuticals (among others, as an antiseptic to treat wounds) or spiritual (for example, the celebration of sacred rites) and culinary.

Distributed throughout the Mediterranean basin through the Greeks and Romans, it was not until the Middle Ages that the rest of Europe appropriated it. Today, basil has become a essential condiment plant in vegetable gardens and aromatic planters in France. Conversely, it is no longer found in the wild, except in its original environment.

Varieties of basil

Basil is a much more original plant than we think. In fact, there are approximately 150 species of basilisks which differ in the shape, color, scent and flavor of their leaves.

Some examples of basil varieties, among many others:

  • Basil ‘Grand vert’the most common in Europe, with its broad rounded leaves;
  • Basil ‘End Green’ with small leaves, but with an intense fragrance;
  • Basil ‘Lime’with a powerful lime scent, widely used in Thai cuisine;
  • Basil ‘Purple Ruffles’with large dark purple, embossed leaves, basil flavor mixed with hints of liquorice and cinnamon;
  • Basil ‘Floral Spiers White’with pointed leaves, very scented with anise, even after cooking;
  • Holy Basil (Tulsi)with serrated leaves and the scent of basil, mint, lemon and anise;
  • etc.

The nutritional qualities of basil*

basil leaves contain many nutrients, certainly, in small quantities, but essential to our good health. Rich in vitamin K1 (20.75 µg/5 g, i.e. nearly 28% of the NRV** for 5 g of basil), they also contain vitamins A, B9, C and B6 as well as many minerals and trace elements (manganese, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium…).

Basil also contains a very high proportion of polyphenols (232 mg/100 g) with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as essential oils with antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, digestive and antispasmodic properties. In herbal medicine, basil leaves are used in particular to relieve digestive disorders such as bloating or slow digestion problems.

Knowing that a normal daily portion of basil corresponds to approximately 5 g, to take full advantage of all its benefits, it is advisable to consume it daily.

Basil season

The basil season is between May and October (the high season being between June and September).

How to choose basil?

The basil must have erect stems and leaves of an intense color, lively and shiny, not oxidized and giving off an intense fragrance.

How to store basil?

Basil can be kept for a week, in a bouquet, in a glass of water. (change the water regularly), or a few days in the vegetable compartment of the refrigeratorwrapped in a very slightly damp paper towel.

For long storage, it is possible to freeze it : Rinse the leaves and dry them thoroughly. Place them on parchment paper in a dish and put them in the freezer for 2 hours. Take them out of the freezer and place them in a freezer bag that you will put back in the freezer.

You can also mix the leaves with a little oil and freeze everything in ice cube trays.

A last possibility: with oil and salt.

How to cook basil?

Basil is used as a condiment plantto flavor many dishes such as salads (Melon, zucchini and basil salad), tomato sauces, soups (Velouté of tomatoes, peppers and basil), des cakes (Cake courgettes basilic parmesan), vegetables (Grated aubergines with basil), meats, fish… or prepare a good pesto. Its flavor also goes very well with certain fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, lemons or peaches.

The leaves are picked fresh, as needed.

To know : basil does not cook. The active principles are volatile; Add the basil leaves at the last moment, at the end of cooking.

Advice : the flavors are released more by tearing the leaves rather than snipping them.

Trick : basil keeps mosquitoes away. Place a pot at the edge of the window !

Basil, essential for flavoring summer tomato salads
Infographic – Basil, essential for flavoring summer tomato salads

*Sources: ANSES 2020 (Table of nutritional composition of Ciqual foods) / aprifel.com.

**NRV: nutritional reference value, formerly Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).


Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.

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