Posted on 21 August 2010 by

Basil that Saved the World

basilpesto1By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Many years ago I decided that everyone should grow something to make the world a better place.

Through many sleepless nights and meditation the perfect plant came to me.

The simple basil would solve world conflict and hunger.

Just think what the world would be like if we all sat down, had pizza, and discussed the world’s problems. Maybe the United Nations should think about that as a form of conflict resolution. I can see the headlines now “Basil stops the war.” Well I can only hope.

Basil can grow inside or out and does not require a long-term commitment. This simple plant is started from seed and only requires a general soil mixture in a container or a patch of ground in the garden. Once seeds are planted water in and fertilize once a month and that is it. I tell people if you can keep a goldfish alive you can grow basil.

To encourage those non-gardeners who claim to have brown thumbs, no time, or children who are curious about everything I give them a small kitchen garden. These gardens contain a simple clay pot, soil, seeds, and directions. For those who are young at heart or truly young I create grassheads discussed in another blog. These projects allow individuals to explore botany, culinary arts, and creativity associated with gardening in a miniature environment.

Once basil has been grown the next question is what do I do with it. Basil flowers are beautiful in floral arrangements and as garnishes for dish presentation if you want to not only showcase your gardening skill but also your Top Chef ability. But one of my favorite ways of showing off my basil crop is through Basil Pesto. The recipe below is easy, creates a great home warming gift, or freeze it as a last minute Christmas gift.

Basil Pesto


  • 2 Cups fresh basil leaves washed, and packed
  • ¼ Cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ Cup Olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 Garlic cloves, finely chopped


1. Place 1/3 of all ingredients into a blender and puree.
2. Continue to do this in batches until done.
3. Place in refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze.

Another great way to share the basil harvest and create world peace is through Basil Oil. The recipe below is uncomplicated and is extraordinary poured mozzarella sticks, salads, chicken, fish, and even mixed with fresh whipping cream served on seasonal fruit.
Basil Oil


  • 1 ½ Cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves that have been washed
  • 1 Cup Olive or mild-flavored oil such as vegetable


1. Wash and pat dry leaves. Run through a blender or feed processor with oil. Whirl until leaves are finely chopped not pureed.
2. Pour mixture into a 1 ½ quart saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir occasionally until bubbles start to form. Continue until mixture reaches 165 F degrees about 3 to 4 minutes. Take off the stove and let cool for about 1 hour.
3. Strain oil using a fine wire strainer lined with two layers of cheesecloth. After all oil has passed push down on basil leaves to release every bit of oil and discard leaves. If a more intense flavor is needed let mixture sit for 24 hours and then strain.
4. Oil can be served now or stored in refrigerator for up to 3 months. When oil is taken out of refrigerator it may slightly be solidified so let the oil warm before using.

Not only can basil have the ability to solve conflicts but it can also make us beautiful and relaxed through basil facial. Basil is known to stimulate our sense, which is great for those early mornings that we do not want to get up. Just smell the basil so to speak and you will be ready for the day.

Also basil in known to bring shine back to dark hair, a glow to the skin and has antiseptic properties that can protect the skin. So after all the gardening, cooking, and saving the world relax with this easy facial recipe.

Basil Facial


  • ½ Cup fresh basil leaves washed
  • ½ avocado
  • 1-teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-teaspoon local honey


1. Crush basil leaves in blender or by hand. Then mash avocado and blend the rest of the ingredients.
2. Apply to face and neck. Leave on for 20-30 minutes.
3. Rinse with cool water.

Basil the herb that can save the world can provide year round culinary delights by growing indoors and using fresh or can be preserved by drying or freezing leaves but regardless this herb is worth the time. While the United Nations are not presently using basil to bring about world peace the art of sitting down and enjoying basil’s culinary delights can help easy stress and strain.

So this year when you are tempted to buy into consumerism for Christmas think about basil and how much more this simple plant can give a family or individual. Giving someone the tools by which they can use to become more sustainable, even though it is just an herb, is one that is life changing and forever giving.

So I declare as a gardener, environmentalist, educator, and human being that shares a big blue ball with many other people and organisms that 2011 will be the “Year of Basil.” But to make change more fun declare your own “Plant of the Year for Change” and let me know how it goes

2 Responses to “Basil that Saved the World”

  1. Wendy Says:

    well, I tend to now have very good luck with goldfish…but basil I can do! I’ll have to try your recipe for basil oil. Sounds great and very useful.

  2. TheCrunchyMarriage Says:

    While I agree with almost everything you say here, I have to point out that any one not willing to go the distance and add actual pine nuts to their pesto does not deserve pesto at all.

    You seem like you should know btter!

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