Basil is certainly the most popular summer herb in local gardens.
The warm, long days of this time of the year are perfectly suited to these easy-to-grow plants.
Basil supposedly derives its name from a terrifying beast of Greek mythology, the Basilisk. Legend says a Basilisk was a half-lizard, half-dragon creature, with a piercing stare that was fatal to whomever it gazed upon. Fortunately, a single basil leaf was considered a magical cure against the stare, breath or bite of the feared Basilisk.
Today, basil may not fend off any dragons in your garden, but is one of the most prolific herbs used throughout the world. Often associated with Italian recipes, basil is also used in herbal remedies, to create flavored vinegars, in teas, and as a key seasoning in many other recipes.
Fresh or dry leaves can be added to stews, soups and sauces, as well as meat, fish or egg dishes. Basil seasons salads and vegetables. Of course, almost any tomato dish benefits from basil, adding flavor to pizza, spaghetti sauce, soups, dressings, salads, sausage — virtually anything tomato based. When blended with pine nuts, oil and cheese in just the right amounts, it creates pesto.