Basil is a tender, annual herb, originally native to the tropical regions of Asia and India. Basil stems from the mint family, however it tastes quite a bit different with a sweet, aromatic flavor. The tender green leaves of the plant are usually used fresh, and are commonly found in Italian, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisines. It is a key ingredient in Italian pesto sauce.
Basil can also be used in the dried form, and is readily found in the dried herbs and spices section of the grocery store. However, the dried version of basil differs quite a bit from the fresh variety, as most of the flavor is lost with drying.
Basil makes a fine accompaniment to tomatoes in pasta dishes, and also goes well with fresh fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, and plums. Basil may often be found in other soups, salads, and various cooked Thai dishes.