Basil is one of my favourite herbs and its smell is most delicious. Basil aids digestion as well as adding fragrance and flavour to a dish.
Basil is almost exclusively used in cooking today, though once it was highly prized for its medicinal uses and has been used for gastric problems such as poor digestion, and flatulence. It has also been used to relieve headaches, vomiting, travel sickness, the common cold, bronchitis and malaria. Basil aids in the lowering of blood sugar and cholesterol and is an anti-inflammatory. Basil is rich in vitamin A, B6, C , K, calcium, fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium and tryptophan.
The ancient Egyptians used basil in the embalming process and it is used in Ayurvedic medicine. Originally thought to have come from China, the earliest records of its use are from India where it grows abundantly in the wild.
Basil is best used fresh and when used as part of a cooked dish it should be added when the cooking process is almost complete to preserve its flavour and fragrance. Dried basil is very different in flavour to fresh basil and has lost most of its volatile oils.
Over summer I grow as much basil as I can and make pesto to store for winter. I also blanch and freeze basil, it is rare for me to dry the herb as I prefer its flavour when fresh. During winter I grow basil in small pots on my dining room table so that I can always have fresh basil available.
Basil and Macadamia Pesto (dairy free)
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 100 grams macadamia nuts
- the juice of half a medium sized lemon
- 1 level tea spoon sea salt
- 1 table spoon water
- 2 table spoons garlic infused oil
- wash and strip leaves the leaves from the basil and place in a food processor.
- add the lemon juice, salt, water and nuts.
- blend for 2 minutes, then add the garlic infused oil.
- continue to blend for 2 – 3 minutes until mixture is soft and creamy.