Basil is an intensely aromatic green-leaved herb popular in Italian and French cooking. Its sweet, somewhat spicy flavor enhances tomato-based dishes and sauces, and Italian pesto. Fresh basil is plentiful in summer; dried basil is always available in supermarket spice sections. Immerse freshly cut stems of basil in water, cover with a plastic bag, and refrigerate for several days. Thai basil, a highly aromatic variety with dark green leaves and purplish stems, is sold in Asian markets and some well-stocked produce markets. Crush dried basil in the palm of the hand to release its flavor.
To chop or mince fresh basil:
Remove the leaves from the stems. Gather the leaves and, using a chef's knife, chop coarsely. To mince, gather the chopped leaves. Steadying the top of the blade, rock the knife in an arc until desired fineness is reached.For other herb varieties, see bay leaves, borage, bouquet garni, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, epazote, fennel, fines herbes, garlic chives, herbes de Provence, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, summer savory, tarragon, and thyme.