What is holy basil? The scientific name is Ocimum tenuiflorum. It has dark green and purple leaves with jagged edges, the mature branches are woody and hairy, and the flowers are light purple. That’s holy basil in the photo above.Sweet basil or Ocimum basilicum, on the other hand, is what we find in Italian dishes. The leaves are light green, silky and rather large. They are either eaten raw or, when used as a cooking ingredient, added towards the end because basil loses its flavor fast when subjected to heat.
I bought two small pots of sweet basil before Christmas and I am happy to report that they have grown and seem to be thriving beautifully. Today was the first time I picked their leaves for the pasta putanesca dinner that I prepared and the recipe for which I will be posting in a while.