Basil is highly fragrant and has a bright, pungent and peppery taste. While there are many different types of basil that range from lemon to cinnamon flavors, the most commonly available type is large-leafed basil. Because of their similarity in taste, common substitutions are oregano and thyme.
Basil, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese make up the ingredients for pesto, a sauce for which basil is well known. There are more than 60 varieties of basil in the Ocimum basilicum family. When possible, fresh basil should be used over the dried variety, as its flavor is much stronger and more vibrant.