One of my favourite herbs is basil. Have you ever had buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato, basil and balsamic vinegar piled on a cracker? Gorgeous summer flavours that work any time of year. I wouldn’t suggest attempting to eat such a tower on a first date, but maybe a second!  
 
Basil turns up in most Italian dishes like pesto, tomato sauce and as a pizza topping, but that’s only one type of basil–Italian large leaf. I was surprised to learn that there are more than 40 cultivars of this aromatic plant each with its own unique taste and tang. Basil leaves aren’t always green either– you’ll find white or purple, and leaf size varies from small delicate to large and robust.
 
Thai and holy basil are typically used in Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cuisine, but I add any of them to whatever I’m cooking.
 
Nutritional Benefits: As with many herbs, basil contains essential oils that can be antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, antioxidant and have anti-cancer activity. In addition to antioxidant vitamins and phenolics, is a rich source of vitamin K, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fibre. It adds a lot of flavour in a way that’s waistline-friendly.
 
A summer favourite for that shows how to think outside the box, here is a recipe I developed for my book, Sprout Right. It was originally for a six month old baby to enjoy as a puree, but instead of eating the puree, we make popsicles.
 
Watermelon, Peach and Basil Purée
 
2½ cups           seedless watermelon             
2 cups              peaches                                              
¼ tsp                chopped fresh basil or mint   
 
Remove the pits from the peaches and cut the fruit into small pieces.
 
Purée with basil in a food processor or with a hand blender, until smooth. Pour into popsicle moulds and freeze until solid.
 
Makes about 5 cups, so drink the rest or turn into a summer cocktail!

Read More:
Herb Garden Cooking to Create Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Summer Greens 101 & the Best Summer Salad Recipe

Make Your Own Popsicles and Ice Cream for Healthier Kids

 

 

What you love to do with basil?