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I have too much basil, but I don't want pesto!

I have 7 basil plants that are growing like crazy on me! The first thing you'd think would be, "make pesto!" but I already have lots of frozen pesto left over from last year. I've been making caprese salads like crazy and I've been putting it on pasta, but I'd love some other ideas. Thanks!

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  1. Thai basil chicken...screamin' good...one key ingredient is kaffir lime leaves, though; not sure you have access to them (sold in most Asian grocery stores usually in the freezer case) or if you like Thai foods. Will post the link if you are so inclined.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Val

      Or Thai Shrimp Basil, my favorite.

      1. re: Val

        I'd love it! We have a little Asian grocery store less than a mile from our house!

        1. re: thunderbug84

          Someone on this board by the screen name "sel" posted this link for the Thai Basil Chicken ... I cannot imagine using all the hot thai chilies called for in this recipe...we used 2 large jalapenos WITH most of the seeds and it was perfectly hot n' spicy for us, but this is delicious, hopefully chef chicklet will also post her Thai Basil Shrimp, too!


          1. re: Val

            I made it once with the upper limit recommended amount of chiles. One of the few times my XBF actually said food was spicy.

            As for suggestions, wilt the basil leaves in a saute pan with some spinach, squeeze out the water and chop, and make a fritata with sauteed onions.

            1. re: Louise

              Thai Shrimp Basil

              ¾ - 1 lb medium tiger shrimp - serves two hungry adults!

              4 cloves of garlic minced
              1 stalk lemon grass crushed, sliced fine and chopped very fine – tender part only- if none I use grated lime zest and some lime juice.
              1-2 inches grated ginger - galangal root unavailable
              2 T fish sauce or to taste
              3 Thai chilies – Serrano work
              2 T soy sauce
              1 T water
              1 ½ Tsp sugar
              1 medium white onion – sliced thin
              1 cup basil – chopped

              Vegetable oil
              In a med bowl mix the soy, water, fish sauce , lemon grass and sugar – let shrimp marinate 10 minutes

              1.Heat a couple of tablespoons oil in the wok, add the onion and stir fry 2 minutes, add the ginger, garlic and the peppers- cook 30 seconds
              2. Using a slotted spoon remove the shrimp from the marinade and place in the wok stir fry 3 minutes do not completely cook the shrimp
              3. Add the remaining marinade and cook another 30 seconds,
              4. Remove from the wok and stir in the basil – serve over Jasmine rice, Garnish with more basil/

              This is pretty hot. So cut back on the chilies for less heat.

              1. re: chef chicklet

                this looks amazing. I hvae tons of basil too and some big shrimp sitting in my freezer. perfect for dinner tonight. thanks!

        2. re: Val

          Isn't Thai basil a different (albeit related) herb than typical Italian-style basil?

          1. re: BobB

            yep. (see my post below). I don't know how much it differs in flavour but i think it has a more aniseed underbelly...

            1. re: kmh

              I grow thai basil. It is purple-green in appearance, and anise is a good way to describe its flavour. Sort of like anise-basil-spicy-cinnamon. It's easy to grow, like normal basil (although the bugs do seem to prefer it, strangely!). I'd reccomend growing it with vietnamese coriander (tangy-sour-cilantro-like flavour - the bugs HATE this one!). Just a couple of leaves together make an amazing difference to any Asian dish - I use them in Asian soups, salads, noodle and beef dishes. You can probably get seeds online.

              1. re: Gooseberry

                I think I might be growing that basil as well, except mine is called Red Rubin Basil. Do you think they are similar?

                1. re: thunderbug84

                  a quick google on basil varieties indicates that the red rubin basil is purple in colour but MILDER in flavour whilst thai basi has a purplish tinge but is STRONGER in flavour with an aniseed/licorice tone.

                  honestly, unless one has an extremely discerning pallet, just use the stronger flavoured basil (I seriously doubt anyone will know the difference, and if they do, give them a gold star!)

                  enjoy the basil - every time i try to grow it a neighbourhood cat cr@p5 on it or bugs get to it. v. disappointing.

                  again, per my first post, share the love!

            2. re: BobB

              It probably is different, Bob...but there is nowhere for me to buy Thai basil where I live and all I know is that this dish is a knock-out with regular basil, to me, anyway. The Asian store nearby that sells the kaffir lime leaves doesn't sell Thai basil. :0(

          2. Another thing I have done is make a pizza, although instead of red sauce, I drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper and then I layer on the basil leaves "blanketing" the dough

            Then, I top that with cheese and whatever else you like, I like thin slices of tomato and perhaps dried oregano, red pepper flakes, parmesan, etc. It's delicious and the basil layer adds great flavor

            1. It's a nice addition to salads and dips where you would ordinarily use cilantro or parsley. A little chopped basil is nice in a chopped salad, and I make a great avocado dip with plain yogurt, salt, lemon juice, avocado and basil all blended together. It's also a nice addition to things like lemonade.

              1. how about adding the whole leaves to mixed greens? we do this with almost any kind of herb and it just makes ordinary salads a little punchier. I also love basil in omelettes. and you can make some great infused oils or things like that and give them away!

                1. I had this problem too a few years back and one of my readers gave me this tip. Wash the leaves, shake off the water but don't dry them, and spread them on a baking sheet. Freeze them solid. With a blender motor running, drop in the frozen basil chips. Transfer chopped frozen leaves to plastic bags or ice trays. Voila -- frozen plain basil to use in Thai and Vietnamese food, or add to frittatas, soups, etc. when you want a basil flavor, but without the other pesto ingredients.

                  1. There is a restaurant near me that makes an absolutely divine chimichuri sauce. I don't have a recipe but it sounds like you have basil to experiment with.

                    1. try a basil mojito. muddle a whole lime(cut in quarters) 2 tsp. turbinado or brown sugar and 2/3 cup basil leaves in a tall glass. add 1/3 cup good quality rum(I like to use an estate light gold such as Barbincort, Mt. Gay or the like) then fill the glass with ice and top off with about 1/2 cup or so of plain seltzer. garnish with a basil top and enjoy!

                      1. give it to your friends!
                        either the basil. or fresh pesto. if they don't have a basil plant for one reason or another, and they like food, they'll really appreciate it (much more than they enjoy hearing you say you have too much basil)

                        other ideas:
                        add basil to your favourite egg dish (frittata, omlette, etc). if you make your own pasta you could make basil infused pasta.

                        like sophia, i also like it tossed through a mixed leaf salad
                        and one of my little secrets is to put it in a neat potato salad.

                        www.taste.com.au has some great recipes with basil in as well, such as:
                        zucchini & basil soup
                        parmesan & basil mini muffins; chorizo & basil muffins
                        lemon and basil mayonnaise
                        tomato, parmesan & basil scrolls
                        basil butter
                        basil salad dressing
                        tomato & basil soup
                        orange, tomato and basil salsa
                        prawns (shrimp) with rockmelon, basil & prosciutto
                        vanilla plums with basil marscapone
                        rockmelon (canteloupe) with lime and basil syrup
                        there are 41 pages of results!
                        here are some links to the thai style recipes, but note Thai basil is different in flavour to the basil most commonly referred to (in Italian / med cooking), but unless you are a food purist, it won't matter too much.

                        this has made me hungry!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kmh

                          And for something completely different the basil banana lassi?!?!?! I might have to try this:


                        2. Make your own basil infused olive oil!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: guseats

                            I second this! Great on pizza! You can also always buy a bunch of small squeeze bottles to fill, freeze, and use later and/or as gifts.

                          2. Basil gelato or sorbetto.

                            Man, that would be good with a tomato sorbetto.

                            1. I have a great recipe for you that I always use when I'm a "basil" mood.
                              you can find the picture here: http://www.familyoven.com/recipe/Thai...

                              * skinless boneless chicken breasts or 4 thighs, cut into pieces
                              * Oil for frying (use oil with a neutral flavor and high smoke point, such as safflower
                              ) * 1/4 tsp ground coriander
                              * 1/4 tsp ground cloves
                              * 1/4 tsp ground Ceylon (”true”) cinnamon (you can use cassia if you don’t have any)
                              * 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
                              * pinch of turmeric
                              * salt to taste
                              * pepper to taste
                              * 1 tsp lemongrass paste or finely chopped fresh lemongrass
                              * 1 tsp Thai green curry paste (Mae Ploy is very good, but I use Thai Kitchen’s since I don’t cook it often)*
                              * 6 cloves garlic, minced
                              * 1.5 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
                              * 1/2 - 1 can coconut milk, depending on how much chicken you have and how watery you want the sauce
                              * Fish sauce to taste
                              * Juice of one lime (~2 tbl)
                              * A few leaves of fresh basil

                              1. Mix together coriander, cloves, Ceylon cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, salt, pepper, lemongrass paste, and green curry paste in a bowl large enough for the chicken.
                              2. Cut the chicken into bite sizes chunks and add to bowl with spice paste, mushing the paste around on the chicken (yes, this requires touching the raw chicken).
                              3. Heat a little oil in a wok. Fry the ginger and garlic on medium heat until fragrant but not brown.
                              4. Add the chicken and brown.
                              5. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and coconut milk somewhat reduced.
                              6. Add a dash or two of fish sauce (1-3 tbl) and the lime juice. Add the basil and cook another minute or two.
                              7. Remove from heat and serve with steamed jasmine rice.
                              8. Authentic Thai curry paste brands like Mae Ploy have shrimp paste in them. Thai Kitchen’s pastes are vegan, if that’s a concern. On that note, if you don’t eat fish sauce, you could substitute a little soy sauce, or just leave it out.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: richiebronson

                                rb, this looks really yummy, and pretty straight foward.
                                4 breasts, I guess we're talking the half? Looks to be delicious!

                              2. Saute a medium onion in EVOO for 2 minutes, until soft. Add 2 cloves crushed garlic and saute 1 minute. Add 1 35 oz can whole plum Italian tomatoes to pot, crushing with your hand as you add. Cook mixture for 20 minutes, med low heat. Add 3/4 cup sweet Vermouth and cook another 20 minutes. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. Add 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil and cook 5 minutes. Serve over penne, passing fresh grated locatelli cheese. Delicious.

                                1. And if you pinch back the tips you'll have even more!

                                  1. Try it with spinach! I throw some sliced garlic and pine nuts in a little olive oil and saute till everything's a little brown. Then I add a bunch of spinach and tiny bit of water. Saute till it looks done, remove from heat, and mix in a handful of fresh basil. It's a favorite side in our house!

                                    1. Just made this recipe for the second time,tonight, and it's fabulous: sausage,basil and cheese lasagna

                                      Uses 1 1/2 cups basil; would be good w/even more. Makes a ton, freezes very well.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: girlwonder88

                                        I was thinking it might work well in a non-traditional spanakopita, using as much as 50-50 spinach and basil, depending on one's upper limit of tolerance for basil. I'm told throughout Greece, different communities use all kinds of different greens in their spanakopita (and, to a lesser degree, variations on feta cheese), and it can differ quite radically from what we you generally find in Greek joints in the U.S.