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Can pesto be made with Thai basil (horapha)?

I usually make pesto with regular sweet basil, but I've been growing a huge pot of Thai basil outside and am thinking of using some of it soon for pesto. I'm a little concerned, though, that the pesto may have too much of a licorice-like flavor, since Thai basil is stronger than regular. Has anyone tried this?

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  1. My husband made some the other night using half Thai basil and half regular sweet basil. It came out great!

    1. Yes, it can. Perhaps try it with some sweet basil as Euonymous suggested or add a bit of mint.

      1. I've done a SE Asian version of pesto with thai basil and peanuts and chili. I might have done cilantro and mint too, can't remember.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sarahcooks

          I like this idea, although this "pesto" would perhaps be better over rice or rice noodles than over Italian pasta. Thanks!

          1. re: cheesemaestro

            I have done something similar to this. Thai basil, cilantro, peanuts, sambal olek, a little sugar and some fish sauce to taste. Works well as a dipping sauce for grilled skewers of meat.

        2. Add an equal amount of spinach.

          1. pesto means paste. same root (also pestle)

            so yes. there are many many pestos besides the now standard basil/nut/cheese/oil/garlic one.

            1. You can make pesto with nearly any green and any nut. You can even skip the nuts. I've done a very nice mint pesto with toasted pecans to serve with lamb and use as the base for a vinaigrette. I really like sarahcooks' and MVNYC's ideas. You could also use roasted cashews in place of the peanuts in their recipes. I would leave out the cilantro because I have a strong aversion to it, but otherwise they sound deicious.

              I wonder how something like that would taste stirred into rice...

              1 Reply
              1. re: rockycat

                I do know that there are many variations of pesto using different nuts and greens. I've made some of them in the past. The reason I asked the question was to see if a classic Italian pesto would be good with the stronger Thai basil substituting for sweet/Genoese basil, or if the basil component would be too dominant. Like you, I appreciate the advice given to make an Asian-style pesto. I'm going to try this, although I may also experiment with the classic Italian version, following euonymous's recommendation to use half Thai and half regular basil. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions.

              2. I grow large quantities of several varieties of basil, and routinely make pesto with just Thai basil. I've tried combining genovese and Thai basils too. It makes a tangier pesto, IMO. I enjoy that, but my husband's not a huge fan so I save it for when he's out of town :-)

                The Asian-style pesto sounds good. I'll have to try that.

                1. Just heard about a recipe using Thai basil, coconut oil and cashews. Great on fish or rice noodles.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cfb1951

                    Wow that sounds great, I have some Thai basil on hand so might have to give it a try.