Basil, of the family Lamiaceae or mints, is a culinary herb. It is sometimes referred to names such as "king of herbs" and the "royal herb." The name "basil" came to be from the Greek work basilikon phuton, or translated as "royal plant."
There are many types of basil, the most common in Italian cuisine is called "sweet basil" or "genovese basil." While most common varieties of basil are treated as annuals, some are perennial in warm, tropical climates.
Basil is most commonly used fresh in recipes. In general, it is added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavor, and what little flavor remains tastes very different, with a weak coumarin flavor, like hay.
Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto, a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce. When soaked in water, the seeds of several basil varieties become gelatinous, and are used in Asian drinks and desserts such as faluda.
Basil is popularly recommended as a companion plant to the tomato.