For the last few weeks I’ve been itching to get my hands in the dirt. Now that the weather has settled into a comfortable spring groove (no more 35 degree nights... we hope!) it’s finally time to get some planting under way. I’m planning a mix of flowers, veggies and herbs this year and while I consider all the options one plant stays front and center in my plans - Basil.
Basil is a cooking staple that can take just about any dish up a notch. From pasta and pizza to thai food to sandwiches to salads. Basil goes with everything. Have you ever tried a basil strawberry martini? Delicious! Homemade pesto? Yum!
Besides being delicious, basil is also highly nutritious. It’s rich in minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. It’s also an excellent source of iron, calcium and the vitamins A, C and K.
Did you know there are an estimated 50 to 150 varieties of basil? Not all of them are used for culinary purposes but there are enough to try a few and compare the different aromas and flavors.
Most well know and most commonly used is sweet basil. Another variety, Thai basil, has a delicious licorice scent, though not as potently so as the variety Licorice basil. Lemon basil has a sweet, citrusy flavor. Boxwood basil has small, flavorful leaves and is perfect for pesto.
Holy basil, also known as Tulsi, has historically been used for a multitude of medicinal properties, including the removal of phlegm to reduce coughing and soothe a sore throat, to strengthen the stomach, to induce perspiration, bring down fever, as a nerve tonic, to sharpen memory, to strengthen the kidneys and to help expel kidney stones, to reduce cholesterol, to protect against stress and to aid with eye disorders.
You can be sure there will be at least a few basil bushes, perhaps even a few varieties, in my garden this year. I hope you’ll do the same!
I am a Wellness Coach and volunteer for the Down Town Merchants Association of Lakewood Alive.