basil before tomatoes?
I am growing Thai basil this year. I think it is very versatile. I use it in chicken and pork dishes. I also use it with vegatables. Toss the vegatables in a bit of oil, add S/P and maybe a splash of soy. Quickly saute. Is love it with eggplant, yellow and zucchini squash. I also love to broil asparagus with oil, garlic and S/P- add the basil at the end of the broiling. Good luck
I love it in green salads, tossed with arugula, mint, dill, and other strong flavors. Just the greens with some good parmigiano and an olive oil/lemon dressing makes for a wonderful salad. You could also add bits of pancetta or bacon.
Last night I added loads of basil to a stuffed pepper recipe. While I think I prefer dill or oregano, the basil was a nice change and complemented the pine nuts in the stuffing mixture.
Similar to pesto, I like to make a neutral basil oil concoction to use as a condiment. I blend together basil, lemon juice, EVOO, S&P so that it has the consistency of a looser pesto. Not as pungent as pesto and more versatile. Store in jar in fridge and can be used in/on:
Steamed or grilled veggies
etc. etc. etc.
Make a salad out of them. Use them like lettuce. It works! If you're afraid of such pungency substitute some spinach but all basil is best.
Put cherry tomato halves (store bought is okay given your constraints) that have been sprinkled on the cut side with a little sugar into a salad bowl with chunks of fresh mozzarella and add a whole lot of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Marinate an hour or so and then add lots and lots of whole basil (same proportion as lettuce in a green salad). Toss, then add a small amount of good quality balsamic and a little fleur de sel or similar wet sea salt and toss again.
Don't add the vinegar till the end: it toughens the tomatoes.
This is very simple and very delicious and doesn't require stellar tomatoes, only stellar basil. Great tomatoes are always nice, but if you don't have them it works anyways.
Take a small handful of basil and a big handful of spinach leaves, and stick them in a blender with a couple tablespoons of stock. Blitz to get a bright green liquid. Top this up with more hot stock, and use it as a base for a green risotto. I do this with chunks of roasted butternut squash and sometimes mushrooms too.
I'd also consider doing a sort of pesto and swirling it through bread dough with some cheese before baking.
The scrambled egg idea and just chucking the leaves in a salad from the other posters are particularly good.