"Genovese" basil is a variety of sweet basil that originated in Italy. This specialized European strain has less of a tendency to become bitter after long, slow periods of cooking. "Genovese" has a reputation for making the best pesto, as well as the best "insalata caprese," which is dish consisting of tomato slices topped with mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves. In Italy, it is considered a sign of love. When a woman puts out a pot of basil, it means she is ready to receive her suitor. In France, it is called herbe royale.
Though used mainly as a culinary, there are many other possible uses for basil. Try a cup of basil tea as an after dinner drink to aid digestion and expel gas. Basil tea is also good for stomach cramps and vomiting. An extract from the seeds has been shown to have an antibacterial effect. Rub leaves on insect bites to reduce itching. Basil essential oil has many aromatherapy uses. A drop on the sleeve can be inhaled for mental fatigue. Combine it with hyssop, bergamot or geranium oils for a stimulating massage oil for depression
Genovese Basil Lemonade Recipe
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ cup of purple basil cut into chiffonade
3-4 cups of cold water
Additional lemon slices and basil for garnish
In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir 1 cup of water and the sugar together to make a simple syrup.
Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it cool.
In a large pitcher, muddle the lemon juice and basil together until basil is fragrant and juice starts to turn pinkish.
Mix in the simple syrup and remaining cups of water until desired sweetness is achieved.
Serve right away with plenty of ice or refrigerate until cold.
Tasty Homemade Pesto
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese. If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.