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Basil....lots of fresh basil

So my husband planted a basil plant and the thing has just turned into a monster.....huge, beautiful, tasty leaves, and far too many of them. So who has good ideas?? A good pesto recipe? Something else that involves pasta and maybe some of the decent tomatoes that are (finally) available??

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  1. "Three Cup Chicken" is a Chinese recipe that might be a little different from norm for you. You know, since you're going to get a ton of Italian recipes anyway.

    The three cups are: one cup sesame oil, one cup soy sauce, and one cup rice wine. That'll cook the equivalent of two chickens, so cut it in half (then it's like three half cup chicken, right?). Cut the chicken into the size pieces you want to eat. Smaller pieces=more flavor.

    In addition to the three main ingredients you'll want five cloves of garlic, four or five quarter inch slices of ginger, and several handfuls of basil. Be generous since you have a lot. The more the better.

    Sautee the garlic and ginger in regular neutral oil until fragrant, then sear the chicken on all sides. Add your three liquid ingredients, stir, bring to a boil, then down to a simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Add a pinch of sugar if that's to your liking, and stir in the basil. Some people like to cook the basil down a lot, some like to stir it in right before serving, and some like to do half the basil first and more fresh basil at the end. Up to you!

    Serve over rice.

    1. There is no such thing as'far too many of them' when we're talking basil leaves. Apart from making up several jars of pesto – you can devote a day to picking and sorting basil leaves (discarding those that are damaged and any flower buds – they'll only make your pesto bitter), grating parmesan, toasting pinenuts and grinding all up together with your best extra virgin olive oil – for use in the depths of winter when the flavour of fresh basil has become a distant memory. Add fresh basil to tossed salads and SE Asian stir fries and curries, make up side dishes of summer flavoured tomatoes, spanish onions with basil, black pepper, sea salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add to quiches, strew over risotto, add to any number of summery pasta dishes, give bunches to your friends and neighbours... You can never have too many – in fact I have never had enough (and I grow up to a dozen plants!).

      1. I have to agree with angelasusan - it's so versatile I'm sure you can find a way to use it in all kinds of food. Aside from pesto, tons of other Italian and other Mediterranean dishes and Asian food (which really burns through alot of basil), I just made a great tomato pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes cooked down to a rich paste in a large-surface sauce pan, and added basil and parsley at the end. Anyways, here's my latest use for extra basil: basil schnapps!http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        You can also freeze extra shopped basil by putting a Tbsp in each section of an ice cube tray, cover with water, and freeze. Remove the frozen basil ice cubes and storing in a freezer bag, then dropping them into stews and sauces throughout the winter.

        1. This is the one I use as a guideline--have EXTRA pine nuts, cheese, and basil to adjust to taste (very important!).


          4 cups (packed) fresh basil (Genovese is best)
          1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted until golden; cooled
          2 large garlic cloves -- minced
          1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
          1 teaspoon Kosher salt -- (or 1/2 teas reg)
          1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
          1/2 cup (packed) finely grated Parmesan cheese -- (about 1 1/2 ounces)

          In a food processor, puree basil, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil, salt, and pepper. Blend in Parmesan cheese in quick pulses. Can be made ahead, surface covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for 3 days. Can also be frozen; best if frozen in small portions.

          Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

          This is from Gourmet Sept. 1996.

          1. I like to make basil mayo in the summer. It's amazing on BLT sandwiches!! My favorite summertime treat.
            But also goes well on any other sandwich, as a dip for artichokes or fried green tomatoes, and I'm sure tons of other uses. Just blend with lemon, s&p, and anything else you want to add, such as cayenne, garlic, etc.

            1. Basil on BLT...I never would have guessed. I'll have to try it this weekend; it makes sense when I think about it. And I also loved the tip on the basil ice cubes. Keep the ideas coming. Tomorrow will be a tomatoe-basil sauce for pasta....and I put a little in my chicken curry tonight and it was just fine....

              1 Reply
              1. re: janetofreno

                Last weekend I made uber-BLTs. Artisinal olive bread, no-nitrate bacon, home grown tomatoes, and basil leaves instead of lettuce. Ummm.

              2. A favorite of mine (actually I'm planning on making it tonight) is a basil/walnut sauce that I put on crisp-cooked and chilled green beans. Lay the beans out neatly in a row in a long dish, then put the sauce down the middle on top. Very good, and quite attractive as well.

                The sauce is about 2 cups of basil, a couple T of red wine vinegar, about 1/4 cup of olive oil, a garlic clove or two in the food processor. Puree. It should be quite thick. The toss in about 1/2 cup of walnut pieces and pulse till chopped, but still chunky. Add more liquid if it seems too thick, but it should be a dense sauce that will "stay put" when you put it on the beans.

                This is from one of the Silver Palette cookbooks, but it is a longtime summer favorite of mine.

                1. I usually just wing it, so I'm not sure how much, depends on taste, I suppose, but a simple basil compound butter can be really good to just have around. Roll it in some parchment paper or wax or whatever you like and fridge/freeze it, keeps pretty well.

                  1. Thai chicken with basil, sometimes called drunken chicken. I can post a recipe later if you'd like one. Most recipes call for Thai basil, but regular basil works too, I've found.

                    1. Following angelasusan's lead re asian foods, basil is great as a garnish for Pho:


                      And Bahn Mi:


                      and Bahn Mi has the merits of being quick and not requiring you to heat up the house.