Experiencing basil, wild on the hills of Rome will convert anyone disinterested in aphrodisiacs. Basil is fresh, exhilarating and rich all at the same time. The beauty of the basil plant with its luscious leaves surrounding tiny white flowers is that it paints a serene backdrop in window boxes and container gardens. Once picked and chopped, the oil in the leaves fill the air and lend flavor to noodles, meats, pizzas, salads, grilled vegetables and fresh fruits. I love to crush fresh basil leaves into my lemonade, or make copious amounts of pesto to freeze in ice cube trays to add to hot noodles on busy nights or when I’m craving a little shot of summer.
Ancient Greek women knew the power of the scent of basil. Traditionally, they would powder their breast with the dried herb to keep their husbands from straying. The Romans used it to procure fertility. Haitians claim basil’s origin is associated with Erzulie, their goddess of love. In India, it’s revered as the sacred herb ‘tulsi’ and is a gift given to the gods Vishnu, Krishna and Silva, and is said to represent ones love.
Basil’s aphrodisiac reputation is more then just ancient folklore, the herb provides medicinal properties that revitalize the body and cure pain. Customarily, it’s chewed raw to release stress and ease digestion. Basil contains camphor, tannin, and thymol which work together as an anti- spasmodic and as a sedative. A tea made with crushed basil works great to ease the transition after a long flight. The essential oil is great for healing head aches and sore muscles. Making the oil out of basil leaves is easy. Just purchase cheap vodka and soak 3 cups of basil in a 1/2 cup of alcohol. Keep it in the back of a dark cabinet and store for one week. Strain the leaves and store in a amber bottle.
In this month’s piece I am leaving you with a recipe for vegan basil pesto. The recipe is doubled so that you can freeze some for later. Use the left overs in white bean soup, on top of soft Italian or French bread, on long spaghetti noodles, as a salad dressing, or a sauce for meats.
Basil Vegan Pesto (You won’t miss the cheese)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup walnuts, raw or roasted (experiment with the flavor to see which one you like best)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1. Combine all above mentioned ingredients in a food processor.
2. Set the food processor to high.
3. Process for 2 minutes.
4. Pour in more oil if the mixture seems too dry.
5. Salt and pepper to taste
6. Use as a condiment for a variety of different dishes.