Got any Basil-tastic recipes?
July 18, 2007 10:36 PM   Subscribe

I have a big, bushy, fragrant, delightful Sweet Basil plant... and nothing to do with the astounding amount of basil it's producing.

I'm a bachelor, so my kitchen supplies are kinda limited. I'd be open to making my own pasta sauces, but it's summer here in Texas and I'm not really eating that much hot pasta... I'm eating a lot more cold leafy salads (and yes, I already do use the basil in basil/parmesan/arugula salad), cold pasta salads, grilled meats, and mexican food (wraps, fajitas, tacos, etc.) than I am italian.

My girlfriend, who got me the basil plant, is coming over for dinner tonight. Any recipes that will wow her but not break my budget? Only thing she doesn't like is grilled steak.
posted by SpecialK to Food & Drink (35 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Pesto, delicious pesto
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:43 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Margherita pizza, only if you can get some fabulous, ripe vine tomatoes to go with it.
posted by slightlybewildered at 10:44 PM on July 18, 2007

and things to do with pesto
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:45 PM on July 18, 2007

Do you have a blender? If not, get a cheap one, and start making pesto, because making pesto is simple. It's great on just about everything, from omelettes to sandwiches to steamed veggies to hamburgers to whatever, and also a wonderful gift. People just can't get enough pesto!
posted by mediareport at 10:46 PM on July 18, 2007

You can also dry basil in your oven, preserving some of your summertime bounty for the coming winter.
posted by paulsc at 10:49 PM on July 18, 2007

OMG, basil is wonderful. Especially as it is now in season.

One recommendation is to make bruschetta, which you can eat cold. It's basically garlic, basil, olive oil and plum tomato — regular tomatoes are too juicy and have too many seeds. Any variations turn on those ingredients. Any basic recipe will work.

You could also make basil chicken. Get a not-non-stick pan up to high heat, and put in one chopped onion and three chopped cloves of garlic with a half stick of butter until the onion sweats. Move the onion-garlic to the side and add two chicken breasts. Brown the chicken on both sides. There should be a little brown crust on the pan — deglaze with white wine or vermouth, scrape the pan to mix the browning into the broth. Cook with mushrooms for about 10 minutes. Chop up a couple handfuls of basil and add about a minute before finishing, let it cook very briefly, and then serve over rice, with a side of steamed asparagus.

Another possibility is pesto, which you can use with all kinds of dishes. Basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Grind the pine nuts into the oil and chopped basil until you have a fine paste, mix with the cheese (get some good stuff) — check Google for recipes. Serve over cold ribbon pasta. Yum.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:51 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Lime-basil sorbet. Sounds weird perhaps, but it's excellent. Google can provide recipes.
posted by blue mustard at 10:57 PM on July 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'd be open to making my own pasta sauces, but it's summer here in Texas and I'm not really eating that much hot pasta..

Try uncooked tomato sauce, aka salsa cruda, prepared and served without cooking. It's fabulous. There are tons of recipes out there, but here's my version, which I finetuned by feel over the last year: Chop 4-6 good fresh tomatoes (which means not from a grocery store), 2-3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 an onion, 1/4 - 1/2 cup of basil leaves, a slightly smaller amount of fresh oregano leaves, some fresh ground pepper and just a bit of salt. Mix in a large bowl, then add just enough olive oil to almost cover what's there. Put plastic wrap over it and let it sit on the counter at room temperature for a few hours. Then just cook the pasta (I add some broccoli and zucchini into the boiling water for the last two minutes), toss the sauce over it, add parmesan and viola! No-fuss, no-cook tomato sauce.

After you've let it sit at room temperature for a while, stick it in the fridge and it keeps for days. It's great over cold pasta, too - perfect for summer eating.
posted by mediareport at 10:57 PM on July 18, 2007

Make basil iced tea! Steep a bunch of washed leaves in boiling water, leave out for a spell, add ice to fill the pitcher, and stick in the fridge.
posted by mdonley at 11:06 PM on July 18, 2007

Basil lemonade: grind up finely chopped basil with sugar, add to freshly squeezed lemon juice and water to taste.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:12 PM on July 18, 2007

Homemade pesto, on a partially toasted English Muffin, with some Mozarella cheese on top. 60 seconds in the Microwave. Serve with Zinfandel or a good Syrah.
posted by dws at 11:19 PM on July 18, 2007

People here seem to like putting things into olive oil, so I'm surprised no one's mentioned it yet, but: Basil flavored olive oil? Stick a crap load of that basil into a bottle of nice olive oil and let sit for uhh, a while. Maybe a week or something. You could use it on salads, for other cooking type things, maybe give it as gifts if you fancied it up enough. Even if it sat unused in your pantry, it'd be a lot of basil gone.
posted by MadamM at 11:21 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is the perfect time of year for caprese salad (salad like they do it on the Italian island of Capri.) It's very simple: slice up a tomato, slice up fresh basil leaves, and slice up some large balls of fresh mozzarella (the kind that comes packed in water.) Salt and olive oil to taste.

You might even be able to get some Brandywine beefsteak tomatoes for this, as this is the time of year that they start to ripen. Slice the magnificent giants crosswise about 1/2 inch thick and put the basil and mozzarella over them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:25 PM on July 18, 2007

Basil Sangria. (Google will provide recipes)

Basil olive oil- leave the basil in until you use the stuff. Two weeks minimum.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 11:26 PM on July 18, 2007

and also, don't oven dry your basil. You'll loose too many of the volatile oils.
wikihow's setup works
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 11:30 PM on July 18, 2007

Seconding caprese, but I don't actually slice the basil. I just use a whole leaf with per slice of tomato + mozarella.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:24 AM on July 19, 2007

Thirding ikkyu2 and doing it BrotherCaine-style with the whole basil leaves and grape tomatoes, along with the fresh mozzarella. It is an incredibly good salad.
posted by Lynsey at 1:15 AM on July 19, 2007

Strawberry basil martinis are yummy! You can make a simple syrup (1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, boil for a couple of mins but don't let roll) with the basil, and then you have yummy basil flavored sugar syrup. Then use a teaspoon with shmancy vodka, and add some strawberry slices.

Seriously. Sounds weird, but very tasty.
posted by miss tea at 4:51 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Save some for later. This fall and winter you can cook with it.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:32 AM on July 19, 2007

One great thing about pesto: you can freeze it, to use later on when the temperature is more appropriate for pasta (or anything else you want to make with pesto).
posted by googly at 5:36 AM on July 19, 2007

I've dried basil (just rinse it, leave it out for a while and don't mess with it, then put it in a jar). And I've frozen basil. Worked great both times. Perfectly good solutions when you have too much to use fresh.

Note that unless you seal up frozen basil really, really well, everything else in your freezer--and fridge--may end up tasting like basil.

Or: take it to work and give it away.
posted by gimonca at 6:18 AM on July 19, 2007

Ask MetaFilter, September 3, 2005: What do I do with all this damn basil?

(Tags: basil, morebasil, lotsofdamnbasil)
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:24 AM on July 19, 2007

Here's Alton Brown's technique for making herb oil. There's a big difference in that he uses heated oil so as to kill off any pathogens that might like to grow in the oil.
posted by plinth at 6:32 AM on July 19, 2007

On preserving basil:

If you choose to dry, make sure you are drying it where air can circulate around the leaf. I do this on an old, clean window screen propped between two chairs. If the weather is humid, you'll get some wilting/rotting before drying, so try to wait for a dry forecast. I agree with those who say don't bother drying basil, though; it loses almost all of its flavor. Other herbs dry better (thyme, rosemary) but basil's fragrance is mostly most in the drying process and almost totally gone after 6 months in storage.

Freezing works quite well. You can freeze finished pesto. You can also just freeze basil leaves, which gives you a bit more flexibility. They lose their texture and get slimy when frozen whole, though, so the best way I've found is to pulp them in a food processor and then store them in airtight containers. You can then make pesto from the pulp later on, or just add it to sauces and salad dressings. Delicious in winter, a little taste of summer.

A final method that's wonderful is to make herb butter. Recipes are abundant online, but improvising is fine, too. Soften a stick of butter to room temp, and blend it with a few tablespoons of chopped basil and a tiny squirt of lemon juice (to keep it a nice color). To this you can also add enhancements like shallots or small-chopped sun-dried tomato or whatever you like. Turn the blended soft butter onto a large rectangle of plastic wrap, and roll into a cigar-shaped log. Put a few of these logs into a Ziploc; they'll store in the freezer like that indefinitely. When you want some, just slice off a chunk of each log. This makes an exquisite way to sauce seafood like sword, monk, or scallops, steaks, or chicken. You can also spread it on bread slices and toast for a variation on garlic bread, or use it to flavor rice or toss with warm pasta.
posted by Miko at 7:59 AM on July 19, 2007

Make pesto and freeze it for winter.

Basil, tomato, and mozerra salad, as described above, but with a little balsamic vinegar, too. Also, tear the leaves instead of cutting them.

Actually, changing the size of any of the ingredients changes how it tastes. (And they're all good.)
posted by small_ruminant at 8:12 AM on July 19, 2007

oh. what miko said already. sorry.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:13 AM on July 19, 2007

Strawberry basil martinis are my favorite cocktail of all time. I usually marinate the leaves and strawberry slices with some lime juice for awhile, and then shake it all up with vodka, ice, and simple syrup. After you drink the martini, eat the strawberries; they'll taste like vodka.
posted by bluishorange at 8:36 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

nth-ing make pesto and freeze it. I have done that for the last couple of years and it is yummy. My basil plant is not doing so well here in Texas as we have had way too much rain. On the other hand, the rosemary and oregano are out of control.
posted by nimsey lou at 9:25 AM on July 19, 2007

Make the caprese.

If you need a recipe, I'll send you the one I used.

We also discovered that the leftover basil went really well with the all-fruit raspberry ice pops we had for dessert.
posted by 100watts at 10:04 AM on July 19, 2007

Rather than freezing pesto, just grind up the basil with olive oil and freeze in an ice cube tray. When solid pop out of tray an place in a ziploc bag.

This is more dense and more versatile than frozen pesto.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 1:53 PM on July 19, 2007

Pesto everywhere. Pesto in soup. Pesto on your salad. Pesto in your sandwiches. Pesto on toast. Pesto on pizza.

Freezing whole leaves has always disappointed me - I get flavorless slime when I thaw them. But pesto freezes beautifully.
posted by beandip at 6:53 PM on July 19, 2007

Get a ripe Tomato, slice thick, sprinkle it with a little salt, some dipping spices and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Cover with a basil leaf, slice some good mozzarella on top and server on a plate.

Basil goes really well along with cilantro in Vietnamese Pho noodle soup too!
posted by clanger at 6:56 PM on July 19, 2007

The Mrs. and I enjoy using our fresh basil in a deliciously refreshing Basil Mojito
posted by drinkspiller at 8:28 PM on July 19, 2007

If you're freezing pesto, omit the cheese and mix in some freshly grated when you thaw it.

BTW - The standard way to slice basil is a chiffonade - stack a bunch of leaves, roll them up, and then draw a knife over the roll to create thin ribbons. I find that it's much easier to do a small amount with a pair of sharp scissors instead of a knife, especially if you don't already have a knife and cutting board out.
posted by Caviar at 12:10 PM on July 22, 2007

Basil goes really well along with cilantro in Vietnamese Pho noodle soup too!

Wrong kind of basil!
posted by rxrfrx at 2:39 PM on July 23, 2007

« Older Joining MP3s   |   Motorola productivity Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.