What is it?
Basil comes from the Greek word basileus, meaning "king" since it is believed to have grown where St. Constantine and Helen founded the Holy Cross. Grown seasonally with roma tomatoes during the summer, the Genovese basil is a large-leafed, sweet basil commonly used in Italian and French cuisines, and has a mildly sweet, aromatic flavor.
How do I use it?
Genovese basil is best used in any European dish that calls for fresh basil leaves. It is also often made into pesto, an Italian sauce primarily made of basil, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts. Fresh Genovese basil is good with fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken and even cheese. It cam be combined with other ingredients to make tasty hors d'oeuvres or soups.
Where can I find it?
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You can purchase them from almost any grocery store; the fresh herbs are found in the produce section. This method of procurement, however, can get rather expensive (especially if you only need a pinch), so I suggest trying your thumb at the homegrown variety: find some basil in early spring from your local nursery or Whole Foods Market. They need plenty of sun (but can still thrive in partial shade) and can't take the cold very well.
Recipe: Tomato Basil Soup My first taste of tomato basil soup was from La Madeleine when I was a teenager, and it was love at first taste. Here is a copycat version of La Madeleine's tomato basil soup. Bon appetit!