Basil: Not Just for Pesto

Summer has wound down and you are probably like me, clambering to get your hands on those last fresh bits of basil from your garden and Farmer’s Markets. There is nothing more refreshing than Basil’s crisp herbaceous flavor tinged with a hint of pepper and licorice.

So how do we hold on to the flavor of this Summer gem without going the same ole Pesto route? I’m about to show ya…

Don’t get me wrong now, Basil Pesto is one of my favorite condiments. But there is sooo much more you can do with Basil.   I’m going to give you a super simple recipe to preserve your basil and turn it into a base ingredient for many other Basilicious condiments and recipes. And yep… I’ll be throwing a Pesto recipe at ya in the very near future.

Basil Paste

  • 3 Cups Basil Leaves, washed and well packed
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Sea Salt

Stuff this all into a food processor equipped with chopping blades and pulse until the Basil is blended to about the size of a peppercorn. You may have to scrape the sides of your processor, the consistency should be a similar to a tomato paste.

Refrigerator Storage: Pour the Base Paste Base into an air-tight container, spread evenly and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. You can store it for 3-4 days in the fridge this way.
Freezer Storage: Prep ice cube trays by either rubbing or spraying the insides with Olive Oil. Place roughly 1 Tablespoon in each compartment, cover each with a thin layer of Olive Oil, cover and freeze. Once they are set after a couple hours, pop them out of the trays and place them in a zipper top freezer bag. These will keep beautifully in the freezer for 6+ months.

Purple Basil

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11 Responses to Basil: Not Just for Pesto

  1. Pingback: nommynom» Blog Archive » Steamed Clams

  2. That’s very close to what I did 2 days ago, only instead of lemon I threw in 1-2 cloves of garlic, and into the freezer in small freezer-friendly containers.
    I bought 2 big bunches of the most fragrany basil for only $1.5 each! at a farm stand.

  3. Kelly says:

    Oh you got a steal! I’m hoping they will be that low in price this weekend so I can get to freezing up some more. I use this mix as a base to make pesto and other basil-ey condiments (recipes of which will be coming up in a couple posts this weekend!)

  4. I feel lucky in that sense to live only 15-30 minutes drive from farms and markets. But wish I had more oportunities/time for the drive :)

  5. I grew my own basil this year but I have no idea what to do with it! LOL This will at least let me keep some until I find a recipe I fancy! Is it possible to dry basil – any tips?

  6. Kelly says:

    You can dry basil by simply hanging it upside down where there is a good flow of air and letting it dry out naturally. A food dehydrator will turn the leaves black though.
    I should mention that the bulk of the flavor in basil lies in the essential oils in the leaves. Those oils diminish quite a bit when Basil is dried leaving it tasting a ghost of itself.
    Another alternative is to wash and very quickly blanch the Basil (really no more than 5 seconds), shock it in some ice water, pat it dry, put the whole thing in a freezer bag and freeze it. You can then just break off chunks through out the year to use.

  7. I am Ivar says:

    Great tip, looking forward hearing some of your basil recipies!

  8. Making pesto is great – many uses. Delightful taste, colour and texture. And I re cently discovered the different types of basil – lemon, holy, sweet and italian.

  9. Jocelyne says:

    This sounds really great! Could you use this to sub in for pesto? My guy is allergic to nuts, so reg. pesto is a no-no.

  10. Kelly says:

    You certainly could use it in place of Pesto. Next post up will be a Basil Gremolata which takes this recipe a step further, and is certainly a great replacement for Pesto in its own right.

  11. Pingback: nommynom» Blog Archive » Basil Gremolata

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