Tasty Tuesday: Best Bets with Basil

photo credit: Randy Mayor, Joanne Weir

Best Bets with Basil

There are more than 60 types of basil, all members of the mint family. Here are three you’re most likely to see at gourmet groceries, farmers’ markets, and nurseries...or in your own garden!

* Purple Opal (top): Its large, dark purple leaves offer mildly spicy hints of clove, licorice, mint, and cinnamon. Best uses: Its complexity shines in salads, baked goods, and beverages.

* Thai (bottom right): Small, pointed leaves with serrated edges have peppery anise flavor. Best uses: A hint of spicy heat makes this basil at home in Asian dishes.

* Sweet Italian (left): This selection (aka Sweet Genovese) is the most common variety of basil, known for its licorice-clove flavor. Best uses: Its clean, bright flavor makes it an ideal match for fresh tomatoes, or use it in Italian or Thai dishes.

Purple basil's mildly spicy flavors―think clove, licorice, mint, and cinnamon―adds a layer of complexity to this super-easy lemonade. For best results, crush the basil with sugar in a mortar and pestle to release its fragrant oils. Or, if you don't have a set, process the basil, sugar, and about 1/4 cup of the water in a food processor or blenderPin It

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