Basil lends an aromatic flavor to any recipe, and it complements tomato-based dishes especially well. It is also a key ingredient in pesto, giving the sauce both its color and flavor. Fresh basil leaves have a stronger aroma and flavor than dried basil. Crushing a fresh basil leaf releases its scent and flavor. To preserve the most flavor, store whole leaves in the refrigerator and crush them as you need them when cooking.
Rinse the basil leaves briefly under cool, running water. Pat them dry with a paper towel.
Stack three or four basil leaves on top of each other and roll them into a cylinder. Slice the cylinder lengthwise down the center, then cut it cross-wise into a medium mince.
Spread the minced basil out on a cutting board and cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap.
Roll over the basil with a rolling pin, exerting medium pressure so the basil is crushed but not pulverized. Use the crushed basil immediately.
- Crush basil lightly if you use a mortar and pestle instead of a rolling pin. Over-crushing pulverizes the leaves and makes them into a paste instead of just releasing the aroma and flavor.
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