Basil is reputed to support the health of the immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems. The flavonoids in this herb act as antioxidants to protect the body’s cells from oxygen-based damage. And the volatile oils and carotenoids in basil may act as an antibacterial protector for cells.

In the kitchen: Basil is a highly fragrant member of the mint family whose leaves combine the flavors and aromas of anise, clove and mint. It is one of our most popular herbs and can be added to just about any dish: vegetables, pasta, soup, bread dough, omelets, or stir fry. It is especially complementary with tomatoes.

In the garden: There are many wonderful varieties! Thai basil is a small plant with beautiful, delicate little leaves and later, purple flowers often used in Asian cooking. Its flavor is more stable under high cooking temperatures. Sweet, or Genovese basil is a bigger plant with larger leaves, and is more common in European cooking. It is wonderful for making pesto and other sauces. Opal basil is a dark purple cultivar of sweet basil, and is high in anthocyanins, which give it its color. It tastes like sweet basil and makes a striking color contract in salads!

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Tomato Chickpea Basil Salad

  • 4fresh tomatoes, cut into wedges, or about 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 20basil leaves, chopped (approximately)
  • 2cupscups canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed 1/2 cup extra
  • 1/2cupextra virgin olive oil
  • 2Tbspvinegar, or to taste (red wine vinegar, or your favorite flavored vinegar)
  • 1pinchsalt
  • pepper, to taste
  1. Prep: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Toss until tomatoes and garbanzo beans are evenly coated.
  3. Can be refrigerated or served immediately.
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