Late summer is a great time for basil (this pic from Conscious Kitchen) since there is an abundance of ripe heirloom tomatoes, evening sunshine, and outdoor dining. Basil is one of my favorite herbs and odors–especially when co-mingled with a good strong first cold-pressed EVOO and old balsamic vinegar! Containing roughly 82 aroma chemicals and around 200 volatiles, basil also has anti-oxidant properties.
One of my favorite types of basil is shiso, sharper and more savoury than the sweet basil most often used in Italian cooking and perhaps less aromatic than the other Asian basils (Thai, Holy, etc). Shiso is widely used in Japan from sashimi and other cold foods to hot and fried foods. Suntory and Pepsi even have a shiso flavoured soda pop. I prefer shiso shochu for a refreshing summer cocktail ingredient (but may be hard to find outside of Japan). Another option is to infuse your favorite light spirit with shiso (or any other type of basil)!
Continuing with this culinary theme, next week olive oil!