A lovely member of the mint family with a mildly peppery taste, a hint of clove and mint, basil is at the same time spicy and sweet, warm and fresh.
Native to Southeast Asia and Northeast Africa, most of the basil used in the U.S. comes from three sources: Egypt, France, and California. Clean, with uniform size, California basil has a good color and sweet flavor. French basil is usually darker, with a slightly sweeter flavor. And Egyptian basil has a taste that's a bit mintier than domestic or French basil.
Basil is a customary seasoning in tomato-based sauces, juices, and pesto. It blends well with oregano for pizza sauce, and with other seasonings, especially lemon, garlic, and thyme.
Try basil with fish, poultry, beans, pasta, rice, eggs, and vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and spinach.
Use it in soups, stews, vinegars, and salad dressings (or sprinkle it directly on salads).
Lay fresh leaves of basil over sliced fresh or buffalo mozzarella and drizzle with olive oil for a quick, light salad.