5 Uses for Basil

Cooking How-To,How-To,In Season,Ingredient,Summer
May 19, 2011

Think beyond marinara—fresh basil is also delicious in everything from a mojito to Thai-inspired basil rolls.

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Basil has always been casual cook's go-to garnish. Sadly, often it’s only sprinkled on top of a dish for pizzazz. But basil’s warm spicy taste deserves to be enjoyed not only by your eyes, but by your taste buds as well. Here are five flavorful ways to infuse your diet with basil’s fresh piquant flavor, plus some basil-infused recipes we love:

  1. Basil Butter: For a simple and fresh spread, add chopped basil to softened butter with a splash of lemon juice. Basil butter is great with fish, pasta, vegetables and steak.
  2. Casprese Salad: It’s hard to go wrong with this easy Italian dish. Simply arrange a circle of alternating slices of mozzarella and tomato with basil leaves placed in between. Finish off by drizzling olive oil on top and seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Basil Mojito: A few basil leaves in place of mint can give an unexpectedly fresh punch to this classic Cuban drink.
  4. Pesto: This universally loved light sauce is served on pasta, potatoes and pizza. Basil, pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese is all it takes to make a batch in a blender or food processor .
  5. Basil Rolls: Start with rice wrappers and follow package instructions to ready them for use. Then stuff with whole fresh basil leaves, bean sprouts, cooked rice noodles, finely julienned veggies (carrot, cukes, radish, and raw mushrooms are great choices) plus a little shredded pork or shrimp. Roll up (per package instructions) and serve immediately with plum sauce. If you use bottled sauce, try adding a little garlic chili paste for extra spice and garnish with chopped peanuts.

-By Emily Arno

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Basil Pesto with Walnuts

Classic pesto with walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts.

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Pistachio-Basil Pesto

Give pesto a different flavor twist with pistachios.

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Quick Tomato Basil Soup

Combine a few pantry and refrigerator staples for this quick-and-easy soup. The ideal soup to curl up with in the winter after a long day at work.

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Napa Valley Basil Burger

A dash of wine-country red and fresh herbs help produce a more juicy, flavorful burger.

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Basil and Five-Spice Chicken Legs

A salad of cantaloupe dresses up these marinated, grilled chicken legs.

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Roasted Chicken Salad with Basil

Summer vegetables -- green beans and corn -- turn roast chicken into a one-dish supper.