This aromatic aromatic herb can be used whole, chopped, or crushed in a wide variety of savory and sweet preparations. The leaves are most commonly used raw and are lightly torn, tossed into green salads, chopped and mixed into grain, rice, and noodle dishes, or used as a fresh topping over pizza and pasta. Basil can also be layered on toast with creamy spreads, placed inside sandwiches, infused into oils and vinegar, or blended into sauces such as pesto. Beyond fresh applications, Basil can be sauteed into eggs, stir-fried with vegetables, stirred into soups and curries, or deep-fried and served with roasted meats. The herbs can also be incorporated into sweet dishes such as sorbet or ice cream and used as a topping over shortcakes, cookies, and tarts. In addition to the leaves, Basil flower buds are edible and can be mixed into salads, soups, and bowls.
Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K, a nutrient that assists in faster wound healing, and is a good source of iron to build the protein hemoglobin to transport oxygen through the blood. The aromatic leaves also contain vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning, calcium to strengthen bones, manganese to stimulate protein digestion, and antioxidants to provide anti-inflammatory properties to protect against free radical damage. Basil contains an aromatic fragrance and flavor due to essential oils such as linalool, methyl chavicol, and eugenol.
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