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What to do with extra basil

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So I have a bunch of basil and no food processor to make pesto. I've tried to do it in my mortar and pestle but it's not big enough to really grind and smash it up with pine nuts, etc. I've tried to make it with my blender but it just doesn't work. It only blends the bottom and the rest doesn't settle down and get mixed in.... I can keep pushing it down, but then it's hard to get it all out of the bottom of the blender. So yah, no pesto can be made as of now.

What else can I do with all this basil? I have about 2 or 3 cups (ish). I eat meat, but love vegetarian too.

BTW, I have loads of parsely too....

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  1. For basil, I've rinsed it, and frozen it in sandwich baggies, in portions about the right size to add to sauces in the winter when I hate buying expensive, tasteless hydroponic supermarket basil.

    When you add it to a sauce, the sause should be at a simmer, and put it right in, frozen (crumble it in your hand if you like). Don't defrost it first or it will go black. You can't use it as a garnish, as it will be too mushy, but to add flavor to a "Sunday sauce", it works just find.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

      Question: doesn't the basil turn black? Are you talking about plastic baggies, and are you freezing just the leaves, and not the leaves attached to the stems?
      I've tried freezing it, and it turns to black mush. Can you be more specific about how you do this as I'd really like to get it right this time. I love basil and have about 8 plants outside right now that are waist high. I can't eat it fast enough!

      1. re: mschow

        It goes a to a dull olive green, but not black when frozen. I do just leaves, rinsed well--floating in a sink full of water. Pick up a handful, give it a light shake--no need to dry, and put into sandwich baggies. Make as many as you have basil for, and pop it in the freezer. In my experience, it will darken up a bit when you add it to sauce, and won't have that nice summer color, but you get all the flavor. There's no chance of defrosting it and using it in any way you might use fresh, like as a garnish, or in a Caprese salad with mozz/tomatos, but if you are going to cook it in a Sunday-type sauce, you get all the flavor. At best, the leaves wind up looking like the leaves you get when you open a can of italian tomatoes with basil. Just don't defrost first....the frozen chunk needs to go in straight from the freezer, and the sauce should be hot--at a simmer, minimum. Frankly, this method gives good flavor, but doesn't do anything for color...you might even want to fish out the leaves. That's about all I use this for. For long term storage, I prefer to grind it up in a food processor, add olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays, then dumping it into a big ziploc. Then, you can use it for flavor, make pesto, etc.

    2. Thai Basil Chicken is a great dish to make; others will chide me that it requires actual Thai Basil but I think it's just wonderful with plain ol' fresh basil (especially since there is no Thai Basil sold in my area)...you can also add your fresh basil to any green salad, which you probably already know.

      1. I've had a lot of basil from my yard this summer. I've been making basil marinara and freezing it in zip-loc baggies. When I want to use it, I cut the baggie and warm the marina in a sauce pan. It's been working out well!

        www.piealamona.blogspot.com

        1. Make a type of basil oil by covering the basil barely with oil of choice (I like olive) and slowly heating (no simmer bubbles) until the oil takes on a nice basil taste and fragrance. Strain and store in fridge. It will solidify but just bring to room temp. Wonderful for dipping bread or drizzling over tomatoes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: torty

            great idea! I will be making some basil oil soon. Thanks for posting that.

          2. my 2 favorite things!! Basil goes in almost anything. I put it in salads and sandwiches. I also make a lemon and basil chicken with garlic and romano cheese that is always good. If you run out of ideas, just cut off the ends and put them in a glass of water. Your basil will grow very easily and will stay fresh for a long time this way.

            Parsley lasts a long time. I don't care for it in salads or sandwiches, but almost anything else it is great. I put some in stews, chicken or pork dishes. Love it.