Basil leaves are one of the most popular herbs with its mildly sweet, anise-like flavor. Mostly known as a favorite component in Italian cuisine, the Asian varieties (Thai, lemon and holy) are widely used in different parts of Asia such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Basil leaves are also recognized for its medicinal properties that include antioxidant, anticancer and antiviral.
Basil leaves are a favorite base for pesto sauces. The following recipe is perfect as a pasta topping, dip, and spread.
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
1 cup (loosely packed) fresh arugula
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 tbsp lukewarm water
Put ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, basil leaves, arugula, Romano cheese, pine nuts, garlic cloves and lemon peel into the food processor. Blend until the mixture turns into a thick paste. Process at low speed and drizzle the rest of the oil into the blender plus two tablespoons of water. Turn off the processor and season the pesto with salt and pepper.