Basil bounty suggestions
August 6, 2008 11:08 AM   Subscribe

What to do with my basil bounty? Looking for yummy recipes that will freeze/keep well, as well as recipes to take advantage of special flavors/colors, etc.

I've looked at this and this previous questions. And while some answers were YUM!, I'm wondering if folks have other ideas/suggestions?

AND, suggestions that are specific to these varieties that I have would be AWESOME!


Varieties I have are:
Cinnamon Basil - very sweet, cinnamon scent
Fino Verde Basil - "Piccolo' type basil with a very small leaf.
Holy Basil (both green & red varieties) - Called 'Kaprao' in Thailand, 'Tulsi' in India, this has a musky scent with a hint of mint.
Lime Basil - As the name says, very lime-y.
Mrs. Burns' Lemon Basil - Very lemony.
Spicy Bush Basil - Slightly hot with mint, citrus, flowers, spice and anise.
Sweet Thai Basil - Strongest spicy anise-clove scent.
Red Rubin - Large red leaves with a strong basil flavor.
posted by jujube to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Make a vodka infusion. Invite friends over for designer cocktails.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 11:15 AM on August 6, 2008

Best answer: Well, pesto of course. You can also freeze fresh basil-- chop it roughly, and freeze in water in ice cube trays (about 1 teaspoon basil per cube). Just drop it into whatever you're cooking about 1 cube per serving. Will last for a year before the freezer-burn gets it, especially if you dump the frozen cubes into ziplock freezer bags.

Pesto can also be frozen; freeze serving-size portions in ziplock bags. My basil and oregano pestos darkened, but tasted fine; the rosemary and parsley ones retained a nice bright color even through freeze-and-thaw.

I also made a wonderful lemon-basil syrup for use in tea or seltzer water at the ever-wonderful You have so much, you might even think about cutting way back on the lemon and just try to make a basil syrup. This might be fabulous, for instance, in kir. hmmmm.
posted by nax at 11:26 AM on August 6, 2008

You really need to make some Thai curries with the holy and sweet Thai basils. Each recipe (batch the size of 1/2 can imported curry paste plus 1-2 cans coconut milk) could easily consume a packed cup of leaves.

For the more European varieties obviously various types of pesto (which does freeze well) would be in order. I make up large batches of pesto at the end of the summer and freeze it in an ice cube tray (with plastic wrap barrier between pesto and plastic if you are afraid of taste issues in your cubes) then bag up the pesto cubes for convenient use months later.
posted by aught at 11:28 AM on August 6, 2008

I'm so jealous of your stash - I can only imagine how fragrant your place must smell.

I would love to try to make granitas with your basil - one for each type, or any combination of them. I can't point you in the direction of any recipes, though.
posted by chan.caro at 11:32 AM on August 6, 2008

I just picked a boat load of my basil and processed it in the food processor with a little bit of olive oil and put it in a zip lock bag in the freezer flattened. When I need some basil, I just break off a little chunk. It's wonderful!
posted by SheIsMighty at 11:33 AM on August 6, 2008

You can dry your own herbs, which turn out much, much, much better than ones you buy in the store. Check out this Alton Brown video on drying at home (about the 3 minute mark).

Seconding also the "minimalist pesto" -- food process, mix with some olive oil, and freeze. You can always thaw and add in garlic, nuts, and cheese to make pesto down the road, and this allows you a little more flexibility.
posted by rossination at 11:39 AM on August 6, 2008

I grew seven kinds of basil last summer myself. While the leaves are plentiful is a great time to make an herb salad with your favorite summertime ingredients. Here's a somewhat fussy salad I made with plums, basil, and a fig-balsamic dressing. I never did find a use for the lemon basil - it mostly tasted like furniture polish to me - but the lime basil was wonderful in desserts. I made some vanilla cupcakes with finely chopped lime basil and a little lime zest in the batter and a lime-confectioner's sugar glaze. No recipe on that one, sorry, but it'd be easy to improvise.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:25 PM on August 6, 2008

Best answer: I just used a bunch of the Lime Basil we grew to make Lime and Basil Sorbet, with just a touch of delicious. Highly recommended.
posted by griffey at 12:46 PM on August 6, 2008

Stack basil leaves. Place on a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll into cigar shapes. Freeze. When sauce making time comes months down the road, remove from freezer and chiffonade.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:59 PM on August 6, 2008

Previously: What do I do with all this damn basil?
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:02 PM on August 6, 2008

Best answer: Try Vietnamese noodle salads (bun, which use basil not just as a garnish but as an essential part of the bulk of the salad. Bun is endlessly customizable, and perfect for hot weather dinners.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:16 PM on August 6, 2008

Pesto mixes well with chicken and various styles of pasta. My favorite pesto recipe: Roast a few handfuls of pine nuts, add to a food processor with a clove of garlic, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, and a 3-4 cups of washed and dried basil leaves. Gradually add ingredients and blend, adding salt and more of each ingredient to taste, to make it to taste.

I find that equal parts Italian ("green") basil and Thai basil make excellent pesto, but you obviously have the means for some wonderful experiments. I envy you!

Thai curries are rich and delicious.

I made basil ice cream and it was interesting, much like a green tea ice cream you might get at a Japanese restaurant. If you have the means for making ice cream, it's worth it.

Basil lemonade is refreshing in the summer. Take some simple syrup (heat equal parts sugar + water) and add five parts fresh squeezed lemon juice. Add two parts basil leaves and let steep overnight.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:26 PM on August 6, 2008

Dried basil can be crumbled up and put into a pizza crust dough recipe. Delicious, and it gives you one more excuse to dry some of your harvest.

Man, I'm so jealous.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:35 PM on August 6, 2008

Pesto can also be frozen; freeze serving-size portions in ziplock bags. My basil and oregano pestos darkened, but tasted fine; the rosemary and parsley ones retained a nice bright color even through freeze-and-thaw.
FWIW, I get those tiny semi disposable plastic containers, fill with pesto, top off with oil, and they freeze perfectly with no discoloration. Just the right size for a couple meals worth, and I rarely use them for anything else so I can save them from year to year- or give them away since they're less than $1 each.
I use either all basil or basil and parsley. So it could be the oregano that darkened. Or maybe just the seal of frozen oil saved mine. I do that in the fridge, too... tap the container to level it off and top with more oil. It thins it out a bit, but keeps it fresh and green.
posted by Kellydamnit at 5:02 PM on August 6, 2008

Oh, and since about half of what I make falls under the Italian-American cooking umbrella, I use pesto ALL the time. I mix it with the ricotta for stuffed pastas, I toss the cooked meat in it for baked pastas, toss veggies in it, whatever. I love the wonderful three months of pesto when it's in about four meals a week.
(personally, I say cheap out on the olive oil. I had just extra virgin last time I made it, and it was way too olivey. I ended up mixing in a bit of canola to lighten the taste).
posted by Kellydamnit at 5:07 PM on August 6, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!
posted by jujube at 6:56 AM on August 7, 2008

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