THE BASIL: BRIEF HISTORY AND CURIOSITY
Basil (an aromatic plant native to Asia) had a good spreading throughout history. Thanks to Arab spice merchants, it traveled from tropical Asia to the Middle East, from the Middle East to Ancient Greece and finally from Ancient Greece it reached Italy around 350 B.C. during the empire of Alexander the Great.
Only during the 1500s it began to be cultivated also in England and in the Americas, conquering the hearts and kitchens of thousands of cooks.
Basil should be consumed preferably fresh and it is for this reason that many have chosen to cultivate it in their small home gardens, giving it considerable importance.
The word “basil” itself derives from the Greek “Basilikos” which means “royal grass or grass worthy of a king“.
It is a perennial plant belonging to the Labiate family and has about 60 varieties that differ from each other in appearance and aroma. It can in fact be light green, deep green but also purple. Or it can be distinguished in sweet basil, lemon basil, Italian basil or riccio, holy basil, Thai basil and lettuce leaf basil.
The smell and taste of basil vary depending on the concentration of essential oils in the grass. Cinnamate, citronellol, geraniol, linalool, pinene and terpineol are some of the oils that can be found in all species of basil. And it is the presence of these oils that mainly influences the beneficial effects of basil leaves.
At one time, basil was considered a plant with magical virtues. Pliny the Elder considered it even an aphrodisiac, capable of facing and resolving epileptic attacks. A girl who adorned herself with a sprig of basil, indicated, in amorous rituals, a complacency towards the suitor.
Basil is a plant with exceptional properties. The following are the most important therapeutic aspects:
- It facilitates the work done by the digestive system and treats the gastric acidity;
- Helps to find the right acid-base balance, bringing the pH back within the right range;
- It strengthens the nervous system, greatly reducing the onset of headaches and insomnia;
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory thanks to the properties of the essential oils it possesses. This property therefore reduces the risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and general intestinal inflammatory conditions;
- Fights free radical activity thanks to the flavonoid antioxidant content;
- It reduces anxiety and lowers depression levels thanks to the stimulation of neurotransmitters that regulate happiness hormones;
- Improves diabetes management, because basil consumption causes a slow release of blood sugar. It also has a very low glycemic index;
- Reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels, thanks to the essential oils contained in the leaves;
- It plays a very important role in the metabolism, preventing the accumulation of fat in the liver and thus helping it to remain healthy;
- Promotes bowel cleansing, nourishing the bacterial flora;
- Helps reduce abdominal bloating and water retention. Basil leaves, if eaten raw in the salad before meals, stimulate the loss of appetite.
SOW AND LOOK GROW YOUR BASIL PLANTS
If you can’t buy a basil plant from a local supplier, I recommend buying directly the seeds.
Then sow the seeds in your garden (the recommended period is from September to March, but depends on the environmental conditions you live in), water them when they need it (touch the ground, it must always be a little wet) and watch your seedlings grow.
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Come now to the recipe of
Fresh Basil Pesto (freshly picked)
in Vegan version of course!
- 80 grams of fresh basil leaves
- 40 gr of pine nuts
- 20 grams of walnuts
- A clove of garlic
- One tablespoon of dry deactivated and gluten-free yeast
- A teaspoon of thin Himalayan salt
- Two teaspoons of organic lemon juice
- 60 grams of cold-pressed, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil
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KITCHEN TOOLS ~ For this recipe, you need:
- High Container for pouring ingredients
- Immersion blender
- Jar for storing pesto
PREPARATION TIME ~ 2 min
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If you have followed the advice I gave you before, planting the basil seeds in your garden, collect about 7 – 8 branches of basil and separate the leaves. Then wash the leaves and make sure that the dust and dirt on the surface has gone away with rinsing.
Then pour the leaves into a tall container and add all the remaining ingredients.
Finally, pour the mixture into the jar and add a little oil to the surface for storage.
Et voilà, pesto is ready!
Please, if you have a chance to try it, leave me your feedback below in the comments!