There are few herbs as universally loved as Basil. While we often associate the fragrant herb with Italy — Pesto or Tomato & Mozzarella come quickly to mind– it actually comes from Asia. Thousands of years old, Basil’s considered sacred in the Hindu and Greek Orthodox religion. It’s often used to cure arthritis and asthma. While you might think of basil as a summer herb, early fall is prime season for basil on the East Coast. (Head to Bar Pitti for their pesto spaghetti and you’ll see why it tastes so good right about now!)
With a strong, fresh smell, Basil is easily recognizable and it’s bright taste adds lends freshness and flavor to salads and pastas alike. There’s many varieties, including purple basil, Italian basil, and even Cinnamon basil, to name just a few. The plant itself has small, white flowers, and the silky leaves are large and range in color from light to dark green. While Basil was practically made for tomatoes, that’s, of course, not the only thing it goes with. (We’ve even sampled it in desserts as a sorbet.)
Ever wanted to make a pesto, but never thought of yourself as much of a chef? To make a quick and foolproof pesto, blend two cups of basil, a fourth cup of pine nuts (or walnuts), a pinch of salt and pepper, a half cup of pecorino cheese, and two thirds of a cup of olive oil in a blender. That’s it! Then spread it on some toss, drizzle over a salad, or toss it with pasta. To freshen up a room, you can put a few stalks of basil in a jar and let the flowers blossom. If you’re looking for ways to change up the traditional tomato-basil combination, try making sandwiches with a light layering of Basil, Feta cheese and Tomatoes. You can even add it a few, fresh basil leaves to a pitcher of water.
Basil on pizza is nothing new, but ABC Kitchen takes it to another level with their herbaceous and wondrously fresh Jersey Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil Pizza. If you’re looking for something a little different, head to wd-50 and try the tasting menu with the Yuzu Milk Ice, Hazelnut, Rhubarb, and Basil. The West Village classic, Westville, does the market Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella you might be too lazy to make yourself. When you’re in search of a panini, go to Zabar’s Cafe and get the Black Forest Ham, Provolone, Tomato and Basil Panini or the Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Tomato and Basil variation. Regardless of whether you’re looking for panini’s or pizza, gastronomy or salad, there’s a basil dish out there for every mood. Get it before it’s gone ’til next season.
35 E 18th Street Between Broadway and Park Ave S.
50 Clinton Street Between Stanton and Rivington st.
210 W 10th Street Between Bleeker and W 4th Street
2245 Broadway at 80th Street