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?