How to cook like an Italian

Basilico

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We Sicilians call it “buzz-lee-go” but the real Italian way to say it is “ba-sil-ico” but however you say it, basil is da bomb! You can not have an Italian kitchen without basil. In fact, you really should have basil in any kind of kitchen you keep. There are many kinds of basil from purple to holy to sweet, but it is all delicioso. Basil grows so easily so if you get the opportunity to plant it, even from seed, in your yard or a pot on your windowsill, you will not be sorry. Basil will grow and grow and grow, just make sure to pinch back the flowers that start to form from the stem, for once it flowers, it won’t grow as well. You really want the leaves, as they are the fragrant herb of the Gods. Why they don’t make a perfume out of this stuff is beyond me.

In cooking, basil can be added at any point and at many times during the cooking process. For instance, if you are making a tomato sauce, you can add it while you saute onions and garlic or directly to the tomato stage, but also consider throwing a handful into the pot closer to when you serve as the longer it cooks, the more it mellows and virtually loses flavor. Basil is so mild and fragrant that you can eat it raw. My little grandson walks through my garden and picks basil leaves directly off the plan and munches on them. Basil is particularly good paired with fresh tomatoes, a little EVOO and salt and pepper or in a simple caprese salad.

My strong advice is, if you can, don’t go for the dried version. It just isn’t the same as the fresh leaves you can either grow or buy at the supermarket. If you do buy them or pick them, they don’t last too long so if you have an excess amount, throw them in a blender with some EVOO, garlic and pignoli (pine nuts) for a quick pesto.

Here are some of Rachael’s recipes using basilico. Mangia bene!

Tomato, Basil and Cheese Baked Pasta

Grilled Sorta-Caesar with Pancetta Shrimp and Pesto Penne

Pesto

For you non-Italians:

Thai Shrimp Curry with Chopped Lettuce and Basil-Lime Couscous


3 Responses to “Basilico”

  1. hello miss rachael.i am eva ,a girls from indonesia. iam 18 years old.a love your food very much. so please send me the list of yummy food but never increase my weight and still healthy.i am happy your swo was showing in indonesia . we have a kind of tradisional food and of course it very dilicios so i am invity u to hahe vacation in indonesia.i love u miss rachael and your husband mr.jhon. i will wait your email.as\nswer my letter please……bye……

  2. Sonda Risi says:

    I would love to cook more like an Italian..my husband is Italian and I would love to surprise him with it

  3. Basil is the bomb~! Last summer I spent 2.99 on a starter pot. It lasted all summer long. A small package cost that much here in Alabama. I am lucky have a green house window so herbs do great.Our weather here has been crazy, but I am going to start a few things on the deck and in the window. Things just taste so much better fresh~! I continue to learn. Thanks for the article, and the market in Rome, I have been there~! The photos brought back fond memories.

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