herb helper 
a dictionary of 
common cooking herbs:


basil Basil, a leafy member of the mint family, is an essential ingredient in Mediterranean and Thai cooking. The most familiar variety is probably sweet (Italian) basil, which has big bright-green leaves, but Thai basil, which has smaller, stiffer, darker leaves and a spicier flavor, is also wonderful for cooking. Basil’s flavor and aroma are somewhat reminiscent of licorice, some say with a hint of clove mixed in, and the herb is a nice addition to both cooked dishes and raw. Use basil fresh whenever possible – the dried stuff doesn’t even come close to comparing. It’s easily grown both indoors and out – just keep the soil moist and make sure the plant gets plenty of sun. Basil is, of course, readily available in supermarkets, but make sure you inspect the leaves before buying – they should be green, crisp, and free of bruises ( a good rule of thumb with all herbs, actually).

Classic uses: pesto, tomato sauce, thai basil chicken

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