Basil, Herb, Culinary Herbs, Spice

Basil

(Ocimum Basilicum)

Description: Basil is an annual plant found wild in the tropical and subtropical sub-tropical areas of the planet; elsewhere it’s cultivated as a kitchen herb. The plant is very aromatic.

Properties and Uses: Antispasmodic, appetizer, carminative, galactagogue, stomachic. 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 recommended for headaches.1

Basil is probably one of the most common herbs used today. Growing up in an Italian family, fresh off the boat as it were, basil was a staple in our household and not just for pesto. Basil’s earthy aroma permeated our house both inside and outside. It grew in pots near the front door, was planted in the vegetable garden, and was prominently displayed on nearly every windowsill in my grandma’s house. I know we used a great deal of basil, but actually…

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 apparently just a prelude to my own.

Even somebody who lacks a green thumb, and I’m thinking primarily of myself, can grow basil. Throw a few seeds in a pot, and voila, you have basil. It’s fast growing, easily harvested, and just as easily saved.

Beyond the terrific fragrance, basil is so plain useful. Rub a basil leaf across an insect bite to relieve the itching and redness, or steep the leaves in boiling water to create an excellent herbal tea to alleviate nausea or that bloated feeling you get after eating a huge supper.

The majority of us know that basil is a great 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 evil can live. It was also given as a housewarming gift to bring good fortune.

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.

6 large cloves of garlic chopped

1 small tomato peeled and coarsely chopped

12 oz. Spaghetti

Saute garlic and onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, just long enough to allow the onion to turn translucent. Add butter. Cook over a low heat just until the butter melts. Saute this on low for one to two minutes. You do not want the butter to explain, but to keep its creamy look. After the tomato softens, crush it with a potato masher, thoroughly mixing the sauce. Allow this to simmer just until hot, then pour over 12 oz. of pasta, mix and serve immediately.

A couple of hints:

* To peel the tomato, drop it for a minute in the pot of water you have boiling for your pasta. The skin will peel off quickly and easily.

* When preparing pasta be sure to use loads of water, oil and salt. Many people feel their pasta lacks flavor, and it is generally because they fail to add salt to the water. When you sample the pasta to find out if it is prepared, the pasta should have a sour flavor. If not, add more salt to your water.

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