Basil, also called great basil, is a culinary herb of the family Lamiaceae. Basil is native to tropical regions from central Africa to Southeast Asia. It is a tender plant, and is used in cuisines worldwide.
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- Start from seed indoors, planting in cells or milk cartons in early to mid-April.
- When seedlings start to sprout, thin to one plant per container and be sure they get lots of light.
- Transplant out in early June.
- Once in the garden, basil will begin to bloom. Cutting back these blooms throughout the summer will encour- age branching and increase production in the fall.
- Fall harvests can be used fresh or dried for continued use in the winter months.
Basil is delicate and easily bruised, so it is recommended to either tear the leaves or use them whole. One could blend the leaves with oil (similarly to pesto) and freeze in muffin tins or ice cube trays for an easily accessible pro- portioned amount.
Basil is the backbone to pesto. Adding pesto to Alfredo sauce gives it color and flavor. You could also try making an herbed butter to serve with some fresh bread. Tossing fresh basil leaves into a salad is also tasty, as is combining it with tomato and mozzarella for an interesting twist on grilled cheese. You can stir basil leaves into tomato soup just before serving. It will also compliment many other menu items such as lasagna, egg bake, spaghetti, roasted zuc- chini, garlic mashed potatoes and glazed carrots.