One of the oldest and most popular herbs, basil is a highly fragrant herb that can be used both as a main ingredient and as a seasoning in a wide variety of dishes. Closely related to mint, basil is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin A, iron, potassium, and magnesium, and it even has antibacterial properties.

There are more than 60 species of basil, each with their own unique flavor profile. Sweet basil is perhaps the most popular and is often featured in Caprese (tomato, basil, and mozzarella) salad, as well as in pesto. Lemon basil has a distinct citrus flavor and is often paired with fish and other seafood dishes. Thai basil, with its purple flowers and mint green leaves, has a delicious licorice flavor and scent, and is a staple in Thai cuisine. Purple basil, which is known for its rich aubergine color, is known as a milder version of sweet basil, and compliments many of the same dishes, such as salad, bruschetta, pesto, and pasta.