Fresh uses for an abundant crop of basil

Quintessential summer herb can be used to create delicious dishes that can be served hot or cold

    Fresh herbs are popping up everywhere, and one of the most popular is basil.
    Basil is a prolific plant, one that’s popularly used for pesto.
    But beside squirreling away jars of pesto in every nook and cranny of your kitchen, what do you do with the herb?
    Basil goes well with any type of tomato dish, whether hot or cold.
    It’s also good sprinkled over garlic bread or stirred, fresh or dried, into your favorite soups.
    You can tear it up and toss it over a tomato and mozzarella salad, add it to stir-fried vegetables or make a marinde with garlic and olive oil.
    Large leaves of basil can be wrapped around pieces of cheese for appetizers, or you can make caprese skewers that combine basil with cherry or grape tomatoes and mozzerella.
    Add chopped basil to softened butter, or you can spice it up with minced garlic and Parmesan cheese.
    Whole leaves can be placed in a fresh pitcher of iced tea or water, sparkling or still, for a refreshing garnish.
    When cutting basil, be sure to leave at least half the plant unharvested. Keep them in a glass of water on your kitchen counter, replacing the water daily, and you’ll have fresh basil to use for the next week or so.
    Don’t forget to dry sufficient amounts of lime, lemon, Thai and holy basils to use for tea over the winter. Cut the plants above the second tier of leaves and bundle them together with rubber bands. Then hang the bundles upside-down to dry in a warm, dark, well-ventilated room.
    Following are basil recipes from

Grilled Chicken With Basil Dressing

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus 1/4 cup
1-1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 large garlic clove
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

    Whisk 1/3 cup oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, fennel seeds, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken and seal. Massage the marinade into the chicken, then refrigerate at least 30 minutes and as long as one day, turning chicken occasionally.
    Blend basil, garlic, lemon peel, remaining lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth. Gradually blend in the remaining oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.
    Prepare barbecue for medium-high heat or preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Grill chicken about weight minutes per side, until just cooked through. Transfer the chicken to serving plates, drizzle with basil sauce and serve.


Frozen Basil Lemonade

1 cup sugar
3 cups ice
3 cups lemon juice, fresh or frozen and thawed
10 to 12 fresh basil leaves

    To make simple syrup, place sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook two to three minutes, until sugar dissolves, then cool.
    Pour simple syrup into a blender with the ice, lemon juice and basil and puree until smooth. Serve cold.


Parmesan Basil Corn Cakes

2 ears corn, shucked
1 large egg
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil

    Cut kernels off the corn. Pulse half the corn with the egg in a food processor, then transfer to a medium bowl. Mix in remaining corn, flour, Parmesan, basil, cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
    Coat a large skillet with oil and heat over medium heat. Cook spoonfuls of batter for three to four minutes per side, until golden.


Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Bruschetta

1 32-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and spun dry
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large French baquettes, sliced 1-inch thick
1-1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick

    Place drained tomatoes, basil leaves, olive oil and 2 cloves garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth, but with some chunks. Season with salt and pepper.
    Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast in a 375-degree oven about 3 minutes, until light golden brown. Working quickly, rub remaining garlic on the toasted side of each slice, then lay a piece of mozzarella cheese on top. Place bread back in oven and melt cheese for about 45 seconds. Remove from oven and spread one tablespoon of the tomato mixture on each piece.
Place bruschetta on decorative platter and garnish with basil leaves.


Lemon Basil Granita

1 cup sugar
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus small leaves for garnish
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup vodka, optional

    Combine sugar with three cups water in a medium saucepan. Warm over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat , and cool to room temperature.
    Add basil to the sugar syrup and muddle the leaves with the base of a wooden spoon. Let steep one hour.
    Strain the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish, discarding the basil. Stir in lemon juice and vodka, if using. Freeze about two hours, until the mixture begins to set. Scrape with a fork to form small crystals in the ice every 30 to 60 minutes until the mixture is fully frozen, about one hour more.
    Serve granita in chilled glasses garnished with the small basil leaves.


Basil Tuna Panzanella

8 cups 1-inch baguette cubes, stale or toasted
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup drained and rinsed canned chickpeas
1 cup sliced Persian or hothouse cucumbers
1 cup drained and flaked canned tuna
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

    Put bread cubes in a large bowl, then add tomatoes, basil, celery, chickpeas, cucumbers, tuna and capers. Toss to combine.
    Whisk the vinegar and Dijon mustard together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the oil. Pour dressing over bread mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.

Basil Shallot Butter

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

    Stir butter, basil, shallot and lemon juice together in a medium bowl using a rubber spatula. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.
    Serve at room temperature or place butter to a piece of plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment and roll, twisting the ends to make a tight log. Refrigerate for one week or freeze for as long as one month.


Basil amd Lemon Frico

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest

    Mix Parmesan, basil and lemon zest in a bowl. Transfer a heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture to a silicone or parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly pat down. Repeat with the remaining cheese mixture, spacing the spoonfuls about 1/2 inch apart.
    Bake in a 400-degree oven for three to five minutes, until golden and crisp. Let cool, then use a flat spatula to remove.


Tomato Basil Salad

1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 pint yellow grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
16 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade, plus more if needed

    In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute and removing from the heat before the garlic gets too brown). Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.
    Add tomatoes, balsamic, basil and some salt and pepper. Toss to combine, then taste and add more basil if needed and more salt if needed.


Fresh Strawberry Balsamic Basil Daquiri

1/4 cup ice cubes
1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
4 tablespoons light rum
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 large fresh basil leaves plus 1 small sprig for garnish

    Place ice cubes, strawberries, light rum, balsamic vinegar and basil leaves in the pitcher of a blender and blend until smooth and slushy. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with a small basil sprig.
    If the strawberries aren’t very sweet, add as much as 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar.




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