The season's most versatile herb enlivens dishes from classic (pesto) to contemporary (sorbet?!). Use it with abandon.
There are more than 60 types of basil, all members of the mint family. Here are three you’re most likely to see at gourmet groceries, farmers’ markets, and nurseries.
- Purple Opal (top): Its large, dark purple leaves offer mildly spicy hints of clove, licorice, mint, and cinnamon. Best uses: Its complexity shines in salads, baked goods, and beverages.
- Thai (bottom right): Small, pointed leaves with serrated edges have peppery anise flavor. Best uses: A hint of spicy heat makes this basil at home in Asian dishes.
- Sweet Italian (left): This selection (aka Sweet Genovese) is the most common variety of basil, known for its licorice-clove flavor. Best uses: Its clean, bright flavor makes it an ideal match for fresh tomatoes, or use it in Italian or Thai dishes.