There is simply nothing like the smell of fresh basil in the summer!  An aromatic herb that boasts a sweet and somewhat peppery flavor, basil can take an already delicious dish to a whole other level.

Health Factor: “King of Herbs”

Having been cultivated for more than 5,000 years, basil is a star in a variety of cultures’ cuisines, both for taste and health benefits!  A member of the mint family, it is often referred to as “king of herbs” or “royal herb” and for good reason.

Loaded with an impressive 345% of your recommended daily value of vitamin K, adding fresh basil to a meal can help promote bone health. Vitamin K assists with distributing calcium throughout the body, reducing bone loss, and decreasing the risk of fractures. It also regulates normal blood clotting to aid with healing.

Basil is packed with health boosting essential oils known to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It also happens to be an excellent source of iron.

In addition to these benefits, this royal herb is low-calorie and contains significant amounts of potassium and vitamin A. Potassium helps control the body’s heart rate and blood pressure, while vitamin A is great for healthy vision. Studies show, vitamin A also helps prevent lung, prostate, breast, ovarian, bladder, oral, and skin cancers!

Versatility: Blissful Basil

Sure, it may be an herb, but basil is anything but just a garnish or seasoning.  Freshly chopped, it makes a quick and superb pizza or pasta topping.  Muddling it offers a unique flavor profile to a beverage or cocktail.

Looking for something a little more simple? Keep the whole leaf and combine it with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes off the vine, and balsamic vinaigrette for a light, satisfying, and flavorful caprese salad.

Or, why not try what it’s best known for, make it into a pesto! Tossing basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and a little salt and pepper into a food processor creates a versatile sauce that is amazing on pasta, flat bread, chicken, or fish.

Peak Season: Summer

Put plain and simple, basil loves summer. Who doesn’t? The warmer temperatures and plentiful sunshine offered between Memorial Day and Labor Day make this herb want to stand up tall and stretch its stalks.

You can usually purchase basil at the grocery store. However, we recommend buying a plant or two from your local greenhouse or farmer’s market. This way you can enjoy it fresh and more cost effectively.  It does well in a container garden, a traditional garden, or even on your window sill! Just make sure it gets adequate time sunbathing (around six hours per day), warm temperatures, and well-drained soil. Keep that up and you should have fresh basil at your fingertips for months to come.