Basil, an annual herb in northern gardens, adds delicate flavor and aroma to many culturally Greek, Italian, and Near Eastern dishes, as well as adapting itself well to varied dishes created in imaginative kitchens. Basil thrives in the heat of the summer but can be grown in greenhouses into the late fall and early in the spring.
How to Prepare:
Remove basil leaves from stems before using. Wash these gently to remove any garden grit.
How to Store:
Fresh basil deteriorates quickly; use as soon as possible. For short-term storage, wrap in a lightly damp towel and refrigerate. Do not wash prior to refrigeration. Freeze fresh leaves in a plastic zip-lock bag. Remove air, seal, and freeze. Do not thaw before use. Basil also dries very easily.
How to Cook:
Chop basil with stems into soups and stews. Toss fresh whole basil leaves into green salads and chopped into pasta or rice salads. Top slices of tomato with chopped fresh basil leaves, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper. Layer basil leaves in salad dressings, tomato sauces, and as the main ingredient in pesto, but don’t forget to throw it into egg or cheese dishes, sautes, stir-fries, pureed vegetable soups, dips, and sauces.
Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini
Grilled Cremini Mushrooms Stuffed with Basil- and Parmesan-Mayo
- 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup basil parmesan mayonnaise
Place mushrooms in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
Place mushrooms on the grill, gill side up, and cook until mushroom caps brown and start to release their moisture, 3-4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until mushrooms are slightly soft, about 3 minutes more. Remove mushrooms to a tray, gill side up, and let cool for 3-5 minutes. Fill each mushroom with a spoonful of basil parmesan mayonnaise. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Serious Eats
Classic Basil Pesto
- ½ cup basil leaves
- 4 large or 6 medium garlic cloves
- ⅓ cup shredded romano cheese
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Put basil in a mortar with garlic, romano cheese, pine nuts, parsley, and salt. Pound until smooth, then add olive oil and mix until smooth. Or, whirl all ingredients in a blender.
Recipe courtesy of My Recipes
Potato, Spinach, and Red Pepper Frittata
- 1 lb. medium waxy potatoes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp. thinly sliced basil
- 8 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
Boil 1 inch water in a 4-qt. saucepan fitted with a steamer insert. Steam potatoes, covered, adding more boiling water as needed, until tender, 1 hour. Let cool, then peel and thinly slice. Heat oven broiler. Heat oil in an ovenproof 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook garlic, pepper, and onion until soft, 3–4 minutes. Add spinach; cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
Stir in reserved potatoes, the butter, salt, and pepper. Stir in half the basil and the eggs and reduce heat to medium; cook until golden on the bottom, 8–10 minutes. Broil until set and golden on top, about 3 minutes. Garnish with remaining basil.
Recipe courtesy of Saveur
Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms & Basil
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (1-½ cups)
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine, or spaghetti
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil for cooking pasta. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 9 to 11 minutes or according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid. Add the pasta, the reserved cooking liquid, Parmesan and ¼ cup basil to the mushrooms in the skillet; toss to coat well. Serve immediately, garnished with remaining basil.
Recipe courtesy of Eating Well
Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini and Basil Pesto Soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 slices preservative-free, all-natural bacon, chopped into small pieces
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 potato, peeled and chopped
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 can of cooked chickpeas, preferably organic
- 1 can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
- 1 cup kale, chopped fine
- 19-ounce package of high quality, all-natural cheese tortellini
- Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
- Grated parmesan cheese for garnish
- 1 cup loosely packed basil or parsley
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook for a couple of minutes, until they start to brown. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil along with the chopped onion, garlic and leek. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until softened. Add the chopped carrot, celery, zucchini, potato and stir around for a minute or two. Add the stock, the chickpeas, and then the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you go. Add a few generous pinches of salt (be judicious if your stock is salted already). Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender.
Add the kale and the tortellini, and continue to cook over a simmer until both are tender and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve garnished with a spoonful of the pesto, a few drops of the aged balsamic, and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Chop the basil by hand until it’s very fine…when you do this, you’ll reduce it down to about ¼ cup. As you chop the basil, start to incorporate the other ingredients and chop them fine, too, until you have a lovely, finely chopped pesto. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the olive oil. Use as a garnish for the minestrone.
Recipe courtesy of Food 52