Basil, of Lamiaceae family, is considered one of the most used culinary herbs in the world. It seems to be native to India, and is now prominently featured in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Its name comes from the Greek βασιλεύς (basileus), meaning “king”.
Most common varieties of basil are annual and have leaves from a pale to a rich green.
In cooking, Basil is the master herb to flavor first courses. Here in Italy, recipes with Basil and spaghetti are definitely well-known. Above all here in Naples, where it almost is a sort of symbol of tradition. But Basil can be used to make drinks too, like blueberry and basil cocktail. It is also amazing to make parmigiana di melanzane or even linguine ai ricci di mare. And precisely for its varsatility in cooking, it is often home-cultivated.
Fun fact: Basil is well-known for its essential oils, containing potent antioxidant properties, thus protecting against free radicals. According to some studies, it could potentially be used in treating cancer.