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Growing Fresh Basil in the Garden

Barbara Pleasant shares information on growing fresh basil in the garden, choosing basil varieties and using this intensely scented herb in your meals.

| June/July 2003

  • Cooking with basil.
    Cooking with basil.
  • Bevy of beautiful basils, from small-leafed to ruffled- purple varieties, fill a basket to overflowing.
    Bevy of beautiful basils, from small-leafed to ruffled- purple varieties, fill a basket to overflowing.
  • Basil leaves.
    Basil leaves.

  • Cooking with basil.
  • Bevy of beautiful basils, from small-leafed to ruffled- purple varieties, fill a basket to overflowing.
  • Basil leaves.

Tips on growing fresh basil in the garden.

Basil Recipes

Basil Cream Sauce Recipe

Fresh basil may well be the signature herb of summer, perfuming our gardens and flavoring our foods with its delightful clovelike essence.

Historically, basil has been associated with emotions ranging from love to hate. Various religious sects have used it ceremonially to pave the way to both heaven and hell; according to early 20th-century herbalist Maude Grieve, "Every good Hindu goes to his rest with a Basil leaf on his breast. This is his passport to Paradise."

Cooking With Basil

Not surprisingly, admiration for this delicious and aromatic herb eventually won out over ancient fears of its mystical powers; today, few basil lovers ever get enough of it to eat. Fresh basil leaves are closely associated with traditional Italian foods, especially pasta and tomatoes, and basil also has deep roots in the cuisines of Thailand and India, where the first plants probably originated.

Contemporary basil-crazy cooks find many ways to use it. Basil pairs well with pasta or tomatoes, but it also works nicely with a number of other vegetables, from asparagus to summer squash.

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