Common Names: Common Basil, St. Josephworth, Sweet Basil
Description: Basil is an annual plant found wild in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world; elsewhere it’s cultivated as a kitchen herb. The plant is extremely aromatic.
Basil’s usefulness is generally connected to the stomach and its associated organs. It can be used for stomach cramps, vomiting, intestinal catarrh, and constipation. Basil has also been advocated for headaches.1
Basil is probably among the most common herbs used today. Growing up in an Italian household, fresh off the boat as it were, basil was a staple in our family and not only for pesto. Basil’s earthy aroma permeated our home both inside and out. It grew in pots near the front door, was planted in the vegetable garden, and was prominently displayed on almost every windowsill in my grandmother’s house. I know we used a great deal of basil, but really…
Today, in my own house, basil grows in the garden, in pots near the front door, and in the kitchen window. My grandmother’s obsession with basil was seemingly only a prelude to my own.
Even somebody who lacks a green thumb, and I am thinking primarily of myself, can grow basil. Throw a few seeds in a pot, and voila, you have basil. It is fast growing, easily harvested, and just as easily stored.
Beyond the terrific fragrance, basil is just so plain useful. Rub a basil leaf across an insect bite to ease the itching and redness, or steep the leaves in boiling water to create an fantastic herbal tea to relieve nausea or bloated feeling you get after eating a large supper.
Most of us know that basil is a excellent addition to spaghetti sauces, but did you also know that basil was thought to ward of evil spirits? Basil was strewn across floors, because where it is no bad can live.
I am like my favorite basil recipe for pasta. It’s a sauce which makes up quite quickly and has a wonderfully mild, herbal flavor that’s great during the hot summer months.
Sauce: 1 stick of butter (not margarine)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
12 oz. Spaghetti
Saute garlic and onion in one tablespoon of olive oil, just long enough for the onion to turn translucent. Add butter. Add basil and chopped tomato. Saute this on low for one to two minutes. You don’t want the butter to clarify, but to keep its creamy appearance. After the tomato softens, crush it with a potato masher, thoroughly blending the sauce. Allow this to simmer just until hot, then pour over 12 oz.
A couple of hints:
* To peel the tomato, drop it for a moment in the pot of water you’ve boiling for your pasta. The skin will peel off quickly and easily.
* When preparing pasta make sure to use loads of water, salt and oil. Lots of people feel their pasta lacks flavor, and it’s generally because they don’t add salt to the water. When you sample the pasta to see if it is ready, the pasta should have a sour flavor. If not, add more salt to your water.