Perhaps most regularly used in Mediterranean cooking, varieties of the Basil plant can also be found growing in Southern Europe, many parts of Asia and India, where it has been cultivated for more than 5000 years.

Basil’s strong, sweet smell is instantly recognisable and while there are over 160 named species, varieties of sweet basil are the most popularly used. Unlike many herbs, basil is usually used fresh. It is one of the main ingredients in pesto and in Taiwan it is frequently used to thicken soups.

As well as tasting great, basil has some serious health benefits. The herb can help fight bad skin, detoxifies the liver and it’s also a rich source of iron.

 

Here are five of our favourite basil recipes:

 

Homemade basil pesto

homemade basil pesto
Image via Sally's Baking Addiction

This recipe exemplifies basil’s signature flavour with the perfect pesto. Simple and savoury it has a fresh taste and really lifts pasta dishes.

There are so many uses for pesto. Stir in as a pasta sauce, bake with bread, spread in sandwiches or use for an alternative pizza topping. Delicious.

Get the homemade basil pesto recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

 

One pot tomato, basil and burrata spaghetti

one pot tomato basil and burrata spaghetti recipe
Image via I am a Food Blog

Authentically Italian, this pasta is really easy to make and minimises washing up to boot.

Sweet tomatoes compliment the basil perfectly and the burrata cheese makes it extra indulgent.

Get the one pot tomato basil and burrata spaghetti recipe from I am a Food Blog

 

Thai basil fried rice

Thai basil fried rice recipe
Image via Food 52

This fragrant rice combines the taste of basil with Chile peppers and a tasty fish sauce.

You’ll need to use Thai basil for this dish, a herb with a more aniseedy flavour than its sweet counterpoint.  

Get the Thai basil fried rice recipe from Food 52

 

Basil lemon scones with strawberry syrup

basil lemon scones
Image via Laura Ashley

You’d be wrong if you thought basil was exclusively a savoury herb.

These sumptuous scones are a great twist on a classic English bake.

Get the basil lemon scones recipe from Laura Ashley

 

Basil ice cream

Basil ice cream
Image via Blogging Over Thyme

Rest assured, this isn’t pesto ice cream. Perfect for mint ice cream lovers, basil has a similar cooling effect when used in ice cream.

The herb also lends a delicate green colour to the dessert so it looks as good as it tastes.

Get the basil ice cream recipe from Blogging Over Thyme

 

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