Seasonal Recipe Spotlight: Sweet Basil

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Sweet basil is the king of herbs in many world cuisines, especially in Southeast Asia where it has been cultivated for over 5000 years.

There are many varieties of basil; sweet basil is perhaps the most familiar variety in the West. It has large leaves and a pungent taste - the main essential oil in sweet basil (eugenol) is also the oil in cloves.

Basil is the quintessential summer herb - strong and robust, it soaks up the sun and grows best in hot, dry climates. We've been cooking with it nearly every week - check out some recipes below...

Fresh pesto is delicious, and a good excuse to prune that exploding basil plant. Also check out this New Potato Salad with basil and shallots, and the classic Caprese Salad.

Basil goes well in some desserts, too - try this refreshing Basil Sorbet or this entry from last year's ice cream contest: Vanilla Basil Ice Cream with Chopped Valhrona Chocolate.

What do you like to do with fresh basil? Do you have a pot growing in your kitchen?

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.