Dried Basil--Are you a fan or not? If yes, how do you use it?
I'm asking because over time I've seen diverse views about it on CH. I've seen comments that it has no taste, but OTOH I've seen it included in people's ten essential seasonings lists in the board's current thread on the topic.
It doesn't seem to have much fragrance or flavor, to me. But I know some really good cooks out there and some accomplished chefs use it. So what am I missing?
Btw, I'm not anti-dried-herbs, at all. I actually prefer dried thyme and dried oregano to fresh for *most* applications, though I do use fresh for some recipes.
Heck, yes, I use it, much more than fresh, I'll admit. Anytime I make marinara, it goes in there, but not dried oregano...I use that for pizza sauce...ha! Go figure but it works for me. I only buy a small jar of it each time I need it and it's inexpensive. My years-old Chicken and dumplings recipe calls for it, too, in the sauce as well as added to the dumpling dough...various soups are flavored with it, too, and roasted vegetables, various marinades; I rub it between my fingers as I add it in to the pot--read somewhere that helps bring out the flavors in dried herbs.
I use it, too. For various reasons, I use quite a few dried herbs. Most often I try to buy the smaller containers, so I use them up more quickly. I also crush or rub them before adding.
In fact, last night's last-minute dinner had chicken seasoned with s& p and dried basil, cooked in a little chicken stock, butter, & lemon. Quick and easy, with a nice taste.
I find basil to be a very delicate herb, and often times, fresh basil loses its identity in a dish with other assertive ingredients. In tomato sauce, for instance, I find that simply tossing in fresh basil at the end of cooking doesn't give it enough basil flavor. The basil flavor seems to diminish from the acidity of the tomatoes. I use dried basil to accentuate the basil flavor. Dried basil has a penetrating, camphor-like aroma (quite different from fresh basil, I think) that persists in cooking. I use it at the beginning of cooking and then add fresh basil to the end. The result is a more pronounced basil flavor.
I use about 1/4 cup in my big pot of tomato sauce. Everyone loves it. If I happen to have fresh in the house I throw that in too.
Of all the dried herbs, dried basil is my least favorite. Even the most reliable sources leave me flat. Saw dusty-in two words.
Now that fresh basil isn't difficult to find, a relatively inexpensive that's all I buy, grow and use in recipes. One large starter basil plant cost me 3.00 at the garden center several years ago and I'm still using frozen basil from that plant. Fresh basil bunches run 2-2.50 each and make delicious pesto in a few mins. I keep fresh plants sold with the roots on my kitchen counter in refreshed water (in a small glass vase) and use throughout the week.
Bye bye to dry!