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All About Basil

Basil is one of the herbs most crucial to cooking, particularly in Italian dishes, and has a wonderful aroma and flavor. The sweet, tender leaves, sometimes as large as cabbage leaves, have a great affinity with tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, courgettes and cheese.

A handful of torn leaves enlivens a green salad and is a great addition to a tomato sandwich. Basil is perhaps best known as the basis of pesto, that glorious green sauce which is so widely used in Italy and beyond. Pesto also includes pine nuts and olive oil, but it is basil that gives it its incomparable flavor.

Growing Basil in a Pot

The herb is easy to grow in pots and should be picked just before use, though it will not survive the colder winter months outdoors if the temperature drops. Tear the leaves, rather than chopping them, if possible. Chopping the leaves can reduce them to an unappealing pulp and sometimes leave an unpleasant flavor from the metal on the leaves, a taste that may transfer to the dish you are preparing and spoil it.

Under the Mediterranean sun, basil leaves grow better and bigger than they do in colder climes.

NUTRITION FACTS

Amount per 100 grams of fresh basil

Calories 23.0 kcal
Protein 3.2 g
Total Carbohydrate 2.7 g
– Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Vitamin A 5276 IU (106%)
Vitamin C 18.0 mg (30%)
Vitamin E 0.8 mg (4%)
Vitamin K 415 mcg (518%)
Riboflavin 0.1 mg (4%)
Niacin 0.9 mg (5%)
Vitamin B6 0.2 mg (8%)
Folate 68.0 mcg (17%)
Pantothenic Acid 0.2 mg (2%)
Choline 11.4 mg
Calcium 177 mg (18%)
Iron 3.2 mg (18%)
Magnesium 64.0 mg (16%)
Phosphorus 56.0 mg (6%)
Potassium 295 mg (8%)
Sodium 4.0 mg (0%)
Zinc 0.8 mg (5%)
Copper 0.4 mg (19%)
Manganese 1.1 mg (57%)