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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Spain & Portugal / April's Tag Game ~ La Albahaca ~ Basil
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    April's Tag Game ~ La Albahaca ~ Basil

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    Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:27 am
    Forum Host

    ~ Basil, or Sweet Basil, is a common name for the culinary herb Ocimum basilicum of the Lamiaceae (mints) plant family, sometimes known as Saint Joseph's Wort in some English-speaking countries. There are more than 160 varieties of basil available—and new varieties are being discovered every year! But most commercially available basil varieties are cultivars of sweet basil. Depending on the species and specific cultivar, the basil leaves may taste somewhat like anise with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.

    Basil is native to India, first cultivated there more than 5,000 years ago. But the aromatic herb figures quite prominently in Mediterranean cuisine, including Spanish Cuisine. The variety most commonly used in Mediterranean cooking is typically sweet basil (as opposed to other common basil varieties such as Thai basil, lemon basil, or holy basil). The most commonly used Mediterranean Sweet Basil varieties are "Genovese", "Purple Ruffles", "Mammoth", "Cinnamon", "Lemon", "Globe", and "African Blue".

    The leaves are not the only part of the basil plant used in culinary applications; the flower buds have a more subtle flavor and they are edible, too.

    Basil is most commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. In general, fresh or dried basil should be added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor (which is true for most fresh herbs), as prolonged contact with heat results in evaporation of an herb’s essential oils.

    ~ The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavor, and what little flavor remains tastes very different, with a weak courmarin or hay-like flavor.

    Herb Gardens - Growing Basil

    Many cooks take great pride in maintaining their own herb garden at home, primarily so that they have an abundant source of their favorite fresh herbs to use in their daily cooking. And basil is one of the more commonly chosen herbs to grown at home.

    Basil grows best outdoors in warm, sunny regions, but it can easily be grown indoors and in cooler climates when care is given to meet basil’s water, soil and temperature needs.

    ~ Basil grows between 30-130cm tall, with pale green, silky leaves that reach about 3-11cm (or about 2 1/2 inches) long, and 1-6cm (or about 1 inch) wide. The flowers are small and white in color.

    Basil is very sensitive to cold and grows best in hot, dry conditions. It behaves as an annual in areas where frost is common. So in Europe, Canada and northern U.S. states, basil grows best if grown under glass in a peat pot and planted in late spring or early summer (when there is no chance of frost). If grown indoors, basil needs to be well-drained and in a sunny spot in a window facing the equator (for instance, in North America your basil plant will prefer a south-facing window) and should be kept away from cold drafts. They do best in greenhouse environments, but they can easily be grown in other areas, especially if placed under fluorescent lights.

    In sunnier climates such as southern Europe and southern U.S. states, basil thrives when planted outside. It will need regular watering, but not as much attention as is needed in other climates. As an annual, it will grow back each year if allowed to go to seed.

    Basil can also be propagated very reliably from cuttings with the stems of short cuttings suspended for two weeks or so in water until roots develop.

    Once a stem produces flowers, foliage production stops on that stem, the stem becomes woody, and essential oil production declines. To prevent this, a basil-grower may pinch off any flower stems before they are fully mature. Because only the blooming stem is so affected, some stems can be pinched for leaf production, while others are left to bloom for decoration or seeds. Once the plant is allowed to flower, it may produce seed pods containing small black seeds, which can be saved and planted the following year. Picking the leaves off the plant helps promote growth, largely because the plant responds by converting pairs of leaflets next to the topmost leaves into new stems.

    Fresh basil is preferred over dried basil, and fresh tends to have a more robust flavor. Store fresh basil in the refrigerator and rinse fresh basil leaves under cool running water as needed for cooking.

    Nutrition and Health Benefits

    Basil is very low in calories and contains no cholesterol, and it’s a very rich source of many nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are required for optimal health. For instance, basil is has an exceptionally high level of beta carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zea-xanthin which help to act as a protective guard that play a role in aging and various disease processes.

    Basil is also quite low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Protein, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Riboflavin and Niacin, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.

    Basil Facts and Folklore

    Studies have shown that essential oils in basil have insect-repelling properties; extracts from the plant are very toxic to mosquitos. However, basil does not appear to be toxic to rats.

    Basil is praised for its medicinal properties in the traditional Ayurveda and Siddha medical systems that are practiced in certain regions of India.

    In Portugal in June, basil is traditionally presented in a pot to a sweetheart, together with a poem, as part of the religious traditions of celebrating the feasts of St. John and St. Anthony. It is believed that St. John’s Wort had healing properties, and St. Anthony is the matchmaker saint, and it is still a tradition today (especially in Lisbon) to offer a flower-pot of sweet basil and a love poem to one’s sweetheart.

    In many areas in Europe, basil is placed in the hands of the dead to ensure a safe journey. In India, basil is placed in the mouths of the dying to ensure they reach God. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks believed basil would open the gates of heaven for a person passing on.

    …………….....................…………… TAG GAME ~ BASIL

    For this month’s tag game, we have selected an array of Spanish (and other) recipes from the site’s database that include fresh or dried basil as an ingredient. You can tag one of the recipes we found, or you can pick any other recipe in the site’s database that includes basil as an ingredient. And there is no limit; you can tag as many recipes as you can make and review before the end of the month.

    Featured Recipes ~ Spanish Cuisine

    ~ Spanish Garlic Lemon Chicken (Pollo Con Ajo Y Limon) by diner524
    This tasty Spanish dish is perfectly seasoned with fresh basil, and it’s so easy to prepare that it’s sure to become a family favorite in no time.

    ~ Basque Potatoes by SusieQusie
    This treasure from the Basque region in Spain features creamy mashed potatoes flavored with plenty of delightful basil and topped with sautéed vegetables.

    ~ Spanish Lamb Chops by **Mandy**
    The aromatic herbs, including basil, oregano and parsley are the secret to this delectably tasty Spanish dish.

    Tapas (Appetizers and Snacks)

    Cottage Cheese and Vegetable Spread
    Spanish Tomato Bread With Jam�n Serrano
    Avocado Aioli Guacamole
    Saffron Butter
    User Friendly Tapas
    Queso De Cabra Con Tomate (Goat Cheese Baked in Tomato Sauce)

    Desayuno (Breakfast)

    Double Decker Tomato Sandwiches
    Real N'awlins Muffuletta
    A French Country Affair! Elegant Omelette Gateau W/Chive Flowers
    Piperada Sandwich (Basque Omelette)
    Spanish Comfort Food (egg & Sausage Casserole)

    Entradas (Main Dishes/Entrees)

    Spicy Chorizo Penne Pasta
    Pasta with Spicy Shrimp and Sun-dried Tomatoes
    Hearty Mushroom Ragout

    Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breasts
    Spanish Chicken Legs and Thighs With Olives and Capers
    Zucchini and Hake in Puff Pastry

    Guilt Free Stuffed Bell Peppers
    Pollo Moruno With Grilled Vegetables (Spanish Chicken Skewers)
    Paella Esmeralda (Emerald Paella)

    Platos de Acompañamiento (Side Dishes)

    Good Rice (Arroz Bueno)
    Hot Tomato!
    Vegetable Brown Rice
    Good Rice (Arroz Bueno)
    Celery With Tomatoes, Olives and Capers

    Sopas Y Ensaladas (Soups and Salads)

    Spicy Herbed Summer Gazpacho
    Zucchini Basil Soup
    Chunky Chicken Soup, Mediterranean Style
    Antipasto-Style White Bean Salad
    Caprese Salad
    Bandoora- Fresh Tomato/Basil Salad

    Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:28 am
    Forum Host
    Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:29 am
    Forum Host
    Miss Fannie
    Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:51 am Groupie
    Miss Fannie#2585084 would like to tag the following recipes:
    #428491Saffron Butter
    #143896Good Rice
    Miss Fannie
    Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:05 am Groupie
    MIss Fannie would also like to tag#32321 Thai Chicken Fried Rice with Basil.
    Miss Fannie
    Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:01 am Groupie
    Miss Fannie#2585086 has cooked, tasted, reviewed, and photographed Saffron Butter #428401. It was tasty and pretty.
    Miss Fannie
    Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:04 am Groupie
    Miss Fannie#2585086 has cooked, tasted, reviewed, and photographed Thai Chicken Fried Rice #143896. I can't wait to eat the leftovers!
    Miss Fannie
    Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:35 am Groupie
    I have cooked and reviewed Good Rice Arroz Bueno #143896.
    Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:25 am
    Forum Host
    Oh wow, Miss Fannie. You chose some great recipes, and your photos are wonderful! I'll get your tags added above with my next update.

    Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:27 am
    Forum Host
    wave.gif Hi, everyone.

    NorthwestGal #227978 tagging Basque Potatoes #169554.
    Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:35 am
    Forum Host
    Miss Fannie's photo enticed me so much, so I'm going to tag that recipe too.

    NorthwestGal #227978 is tagging Good Rice (Arroz Bueno) #143896.
    Miss Fannie
    Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:51 pm Groupie
    Thank you for such lovely comments about my pictures. The one in the photo is Thai Chicken Fried Rice (with basil, of course)#14389. I am posting a photo of Arroz Bueno Good Rice#143896. They both were delicious. I enjoyed preparing and serving them both.
    Miss Fannie
    Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:54 pm Groupie
    Opps, typo icon_redface.gif Arroz Bueno is 143896 and Thai Chicken Fried Rice is #143896.
    Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:05 am Groupie
    A whole thread dedicated to Basil? Count me in! I have quite a few of my own recipes using Basil.
    Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:09 am Groupie
    I would like to tag NWG's Easy Muffin Melts #215188

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