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Basil

by Nathan Hirsch - Metro Chef, Arizona

There are dozens of varieties of basil around the world and it is a key component in Italian, Vietnamese, Thai and many others cuisines.  Although basil is primarily associated with the classic pesto sauce, there are an infinite number of both sweet and savory uses for this herb.  In Italy, basil is known as a symbol of love, a fitting title for the many foods it partners with and the pleasurable result it leaves on your taste buds.  

Fresh basil should be stored in your refrigerator and wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel.  When cooking with basil, because of its delicate nature, it is best to add near the end of the cooking process or toss it in after your food is cooked, so you get the full-bodied aroma and flavor.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy basil is to make a simple pesto by pureeing basil, pine nuts, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice together.  Remove this from the blender; add in some salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Grill some bread, top with some of the pesto, fresh mozzarella or burrata, and drizzle some good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top for a great little appetizer.

 

Nathan Hirsch

Nathan Hirsch is a metro chef in Arizona

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