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Too Much Basil

  • g

This summer one of the few successful crops I've had is my basil plant, which has grown wildly. Unfortunately, a few of the leaves are beginning to wilt and I guess I have to do something with them quickly. I'm a big basil fan and would love some basil-prominent dishes. Any suggestions, besides pesto and tomato sauce?

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  1. Don't laugh as I'm completely serious: ice cream or gelato. And if you're not an ice cream maker, you can make a custard or creme brulee infused with basil, too. I made gelato with cinnamon basil and 1/2 a cinnamon stick. Google around and you will find other combos that may work for you. Here's my cinnamon basil gelato recipe for starters:

    I know there are lots of Thai dishes and curries with basil, and though they use a different type of basil, I'm sure you could improvise and come up with something tasty.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kattyeyes

      Oh, our local ice cream shop makes a basil ice cream that is to die for. I vote for that. I'd probably blanch the basil really quick, dunk it in ice water, and blitz it in something going into the base. I bet David Leibovitz has a recipe.

      1. re: Vetter

        Look again, ol' kattyeyes has a recipe, too. ;) No need to blanch and blitz the basil--see link above. You let the leaves infuse as you're cooking the custard, then strain them. I've done the same when making fresh mint ice cream and lavender creme brulee. Works like a charm.

    2. Caprese Salad for one

      1. Focaccia Burgers.......Bread, Meat, Tomato, Mozzarella, and lots of basil.


        1. in stews. in thai food. in chinese food. as part of a steak sauce. in mashed potatoes. inside a whole grilled fish.


          1. shredded and added to a green salad.

            in couscous

            in lentils

            with scrambled eggs

            1. Chop finely and roll goat cheese into the basil; serve with veggies/crackers
              Add to cheesecake batter for a savory alternative
              Addd to ricotta cheese for a variety of recipes
              Freeze in an ice cube tray indiv. leaves for future use.
              Dry in bunches for later use


              1. Add to any vegetable or grain salad.
                Layer in lasagna.
                Add to a stir-fry
                Add to corn soup or strained corn puree (great w/ scallops!).
                With tomatoes for bruschetta.
                Drizzle a puree of basil, garlic, olive oil & salt onto pizza after it comes out of the oven.

                Basil makes a great compound butter w/ garlic that you can freeze for the taste of summer in the fall. Also pesto w/o the cheese freezes well, and you'll appreciate it after you have a lull in basil overload.

                Since basil does grow like a weed, you can snip the stem at a joint and prolong its life before flowering, though it sounds like you may not want to . . .

                1 Reply
                1. re: NYchowcook

                  i love corn with basil.

                  i also put it in potato vinaigrette salads and focaccia breads

                2. You could make a basil oil that you can drizzle on caprese, pizzas, roasted potatoes, etc-- from what I've read, you blanch the basil and blitz it in a blender with EVOO, and then sieve it and keep it in the fridge. Thomas Keller has a recipe (that involves spinach for color, I think) in the French Laundry cookbook.

                  1. i know you mentioned this, but honestly I don't think you can have too much pesto. Courtney will spend an afternoon making the stuff and freezing it. We *always* have something for dinner, no matter how late or how tired we are when we get home. Mix it up, minus the parmesan-regganio, stick it in the freezer and remember it when you'd otherwise end up getting takeout.

                    1. Make some pesto and freeze it in Ice cream trays, once frozen put it into a ziploc bag and you can have pesto all winter.

                      MAKE SOME MONEY!!! If you have any small "nice" restaurants in town, take some to them. Even at peek season, most restaurants are paying about $15-$20 a pound from their supplier. Put one pound, including the branches, into a bag and take it in. See if you can get $10 or a free lunch.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: randyhusted

                        A friend of mine did this last year with his surplus heirloom tomatoes and his basil. Made a bit of extra money and got fresh local mozzarella once a week in trade.

                        He said it was pretty funny to see it on the menu -- "Salad of locally grown organic heirloom tomatoes and basil..." -- for like twelve bucks.

                      2. I know you said besides pesto but the thing I love about pesto (other than the flavor) is the fact that I can freeze it in small containers for this winter. Just cover the top of each batch with EVOO.
                        Pine nuts are a steal at Costco but I'm no fan of the parm they carry.
                        To be honest 90% of the reason I grow basil is for caprese salad.
                        So simple, so delicious.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Fritter

                          <<To be honest 90% of the reason I grow basil is for caprese salad.>>

                          Us, too (sort of)--exception here is that we make it on top of bruschetta...so whatever is appropriate to call bruschetta with the addition of basil and fresh mozz! ;)

                          1. re: kattyeyes

                            mmmm Time to make some bread! :-)

                        2. ....btw pesto freezes well, I'm still enjoying my 2006 vintage--tastes as good as day 1.

                            1. My italian Grandmother would hold it in olive oil. So when I have a large batch from the farmers market, I chop it and cover it in EVOO refrigerate and you have basil at hand. You could also freeze it for later.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: JEN10

                                Thai basil is best for Thai/Vietnamese dishes, but standard basil is wonderful stir fried with chicken in a Chinese-style dish. Google any recipe for "basil chicken" and you'll find something. We've made it with a relatively simple, soy and chicken stock base, and used up about 5 handfuls of basil!

                                1. re: Basilette

                                  but itaian basil w/ a little mint and/or tarragon makes a nice replacement for tai basil

                              2. Pesto keeps well in the fridge or freezer.

                                1. imho, there's no such thing as "too much basil." I'd be happy to take some off your hands. ;)

                                  When I'm blessed with an overabundance, I process it with just olive oil and freeze it in small glass jars. Then, all winter long, I can pull some "fresh basil" out to season sauces or make pesto, or whatever I want to do with it.

                                  1. I have a method for storing basil all winter. Here it is. Then you can cook anything by adding what you want to it.