You can tell Thai basil from the green leaves and purple stems (most visible on the flowers, but also on the leaves). Photo
courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Other photos courtesy McCormick.




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January 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Seasonings

Flavor Trends 2010

Page 4: New Flavors

  • Thai Basil & Watermelon

  • Turmeric & Vine Ripened Tomatoes


This is Page 4 of a four-page article on new flavor combinations from McCormick, plus ten corresponding recipes. Click on the black links below to view all 10 flavor pairings and recipes.


Pairing 9: Thai Basil & Watermelon


Beyond what you find in the supermarket, there are many different varieties of basil, each with distinct aromas and flavors (go to a farmers market and check them out sometime).

Thai basil—not Thai lemon basil—has small leaves, purple stems and a subtle licorice or mint flavor. It has a more assertive taste than many other basil types. It is most commonly found in Thai and Vietnamese cooking, especially curries.

Watermelon is sweet and perhaps the juiciest of melons. The name “watermelon” is very appropriate given that the fruit contains about 92% water by weight. Watermelon is a good source of vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene (the latter in the red-fleshed variety only). People have been enjoying watermelon for a long time: There is evidence that it has been cultivated in the Nile delta since the second millennium B.C.E.

Recipe: Watermelon has long been featured as a summer dessert, in fruit salads,  martinis and smoothies. But few people incorporate it into recipes. You have to wait until watermelon season to try this flavor pairing, but watermelon is wonderfully refreshing in this Watermelon Salad with Thai Basil & Feta. There are many other salad recipes, plus sides and sandwiches with watermelon, at We can’t wait to try the Watermelon Tabbouleh Stacks with Grilled Chicken.


Pairing 10: Turmeric & Vine-Ripened Tomatoes

Turmeric, long consumed as a restorative tea in Okinawa, the Japanese island famed for health and longevity, is a vibrant spice from the ginger family that’s now attracting the attention of Western science for its numerous health benefits. Curcumin, the substance that gives turmeric its yellow color, has compounds that laboratory studies indicate have potential health benefits, from cancer-fighting powers to the ability to block the progression of multiple sclerosis. (Read our review of Dr. Andrew Weil for Tea’s Turmeric Tea.)

Turmeric is the key ingredient in many Indian, Malay, Persian and Thai dishes and an element in many curry powders. As a cheaper alternative to saffron, it’s also used as a natural yellow food coloring in prepared food, cheese, mustard and chicken broth.

“Vine-ripened” tomatoes are actually something of a misnomer, when purchased at most retail stores. Most tomatoes sold in supermarkets are picked while still fully green, then ripened with ethylene gas or in warming rooms. Tomatoes listed as “vine-ripened” in grocery stores are usually left on the vine only a little longer than usual, so that they’re allowed to turn just barely pink (not even a full “blush”) before being subjected to the artificial ripening treatment. However, the longer a tomato is allowed to ripen on the vine, the better and more flavorful it will be.

The best place to find true, vine-ripened tomatoes is at a farmers market in late summer (August and September) when they’re in season and memorable. But for the purpose of this pairing, look for the best “vine ripened” tomatoes you can find.

Recipe: Turmeric and vine-ripened tomatoes are an earthy and naturally sweet healthy blend. Try them in this recipe for Turmeric-Spiced Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salsa.


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