5 Uses for Basil

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

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