The culinary delight of basil
The ever popular basil is a herb grown in abundance in the summer months and although it is generally found in every good kitchen’s herb and spice rack, it is best served when fresh. Part of the mint family, basil is generally found in Mediterranean cuisine but actually originated in Asia.
Believe it or not there are actually many different types of basil, and the herb also has a range of uses across the globe. Usually found in Indonesia, lemon basil has a fragrant citrusy smell and is usually used as a salad dressing. The Chinese also cultivate a different type of basil, and the Asian basils in particular are known for their distinctive clove flavour.
Health Benefits of Basil
Packed full of flavonoids which are nutrients found in a variety of fruits and plants, basil can help build up your immune system, protect you against heart disease, cancer and is packed full of antioxidants. These antioxidants are great for detoxification and improving cardiovascular health. A good source of calcium, iron, vitamin, C, potassium and magnesium, basil is high in a variety of nutrients and is also great for regulating blood flow.
Delectable Basil Recipes
Lemon and Basil Crusted Salmon:
If you want to try your hand at some delicious recipes which use basil, then why not experiment with something elegant such as a Lemon and Basil Crusted Salmon? Light and flavourful, this makes a perfect light meal or lunch. You will need:
- 4 salmon fillets
- 8 slices pane de casa bread – crusts removed
- 1/3 cup basil leaves
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese – grated
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Rind of 1 lemon – finely grated
- Baby truss tomatoes
- Lettuce leaves and lemon wedges to serve
Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place bread in a food processor until it is roughly chopped. Add lemon rind, parmesan and basil. Process again until mixture is ground into fine crumbs. With motor running, add 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil and process until combined.
Coat the salmon fillets in the crumb mixture and press in, coating evenly and place salmon on baking tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes until fish is cooked through.
Meanwhile, place tomatoes on a second tray, drizzle with remaining oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast for last 10 minutes of cooking time. Serve salmon with the roasted tomatoes, salad leaves and lemon wedges.
If you love Italian cuisine then you will love your own homemade basil pesto – you will need:
1 cups fresh basil leaves firmly packed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup pine nuts
½ cup extra virgin olive oil (extra to seal)
60g freshly grated Parmesan
Salt to taste
In a mortar and pestle mix together the basil, garlic, nuts, salt and about half the oil.
Continue to grind, and then gradually add the rest of the oil. Add additional oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. Stir in the parmesan by hand. Toss with some pasta and you have yourself a delicious dish!
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