A lovely member of the mint family with a mildly peppery taste, a hint of clove and mint, basil is at the same time spicy and sweet, warm and fresh. A fresh green color, strong sweet flavor and high volatile oil content indicate quality dried basil. Wildly popular in ethnic and American kitchens, basil's warm, sweet, mildly minty/peppery flavor is enjoyed with vegetables (especially tomatoes), in dressings and sauces, soups and stews, and with meats, beans, and grains. It's even earned a place next to oregano on pizzas.
Sweet basil is the most common in culinary use, a customary seasoning in tomato-based sauces, juices, and pesto. It blends well with oregano for pizza sauce, and with other seasonings, especially lemon, garlic, and thyme. It is very popular in Italian and American kitchens, but Basil is also prominent in French cuisine-- where it's an essential ingredient in the blends Fines Herbs and Herbs de Provence. You'll also find it in recipes from the Mediterranean, Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Taiwan.