Basil is named from the Greek word basilikon which means 'kingly, and has an almost mystical reputation in some cultures. Most of us know sweet green basil, but other common varieties include purple basil and 'minimm' or Greek basil, which has tiny green leaves. All three have a rich, peppery flavour; although other varieties such as lemon-, anise- and cinnamon-scented basils are also popular.
Use: With tomatoes and tomato dishes, egg dishes, lamb chops, eggplant, peas, squash, in salads and as a garnish. Crushed or chopped they become the main seasoning in soups, grain and rice dishes. Their most famed use is in the classic Italian pesto sauce.