Top 5 – Things to do with Basil

If you garden in a temperate zone within the Southern Hemisphere then chances are that you have a lot of basil around.  Basil that wont last too much longer as the weather cools.  I know I do.  Which nicely brings me to what I intend to do with it.  These are my top 5 uses for Basil:


Pesto – Everyone’s favourite basil based sauce.  Pesto is quick, easy, delicious and freezable.  What’s not to like.  I free mine in meal sized portions after I’ve whizzed the pine nuts, basil, garlic and olive oil together in the food processor but before the cheese is added.  Not really sure why but it works really well doing it that way.  I wont add to the wealth of pesto recipes on the net but if you feel you’d like one, this looks as good as any.  (I never add lemon to mine).


Puttanesca-  I used to only ever make Puttanesca pasta sauce with parsley but then I posted on it and got heaps of comments from people who used basil.  Now I use basil too, although I think I still prefer the parsley version but the basil aint half bad and a useful alternative as it is generally available at times when parsley is in short supply.

Freeze it- I tend to freeze quite a bit of basil.  I detach the leaves from the stalks and freeze them whole.  They do discolour but provided you use them in cooking it doesn’t matter much.  It is a great way to get a basil hit in the middle of winter.

Tomato Salad

Salads-  I love throwing basil leaves into mixed salads.  They taste great, add interest and provide a nice green element.  I also use them a lot with tomatoes, but at this time of the year the fresh tomato supplies are dwindling so I use them more with other salad ingredients.

Add it to passata- Whenever I’ve been given passata made by Aussies of Italian descent there’s always quite of bit of basil in it.  I’ve never preserved my tomatoes with basil but I reckon I should give it a go.  Who would argue with ‘Nonna’ after all?

Those are my Top 5 uses for basil.  What do you think I’ve missed?

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14 Responses to Top 5 – Things to do with Basil

  1. Daphne says:

    I love basil. I often roast chicken with basil. I chop it up and mix it with oil or butter, salt and pepper. And just rub it on the outside. So delicious. I freeze it too and it does discolor, but who cares? You can’t use it in the salad directly that way, but you can put it in dressings. Sadly basil doesn’t dry well. I do dry it, but the taste is different. Freezing is the only way to preserve it to get that wonderful taste.

  2. I’d never thought of freezing basil but then again we don’t manage to grow lots of it!

  3. Mark Willis says:

    You can make a really nice flavoured oil with Basil too. But make sure the Basil is clean and dry before putting it in the oil, otherwise it may go mouldy.

  4. Sarah says:

    I’m so looking forward to the first basil harvest of summer – just starting to sow seed now, a bit late maybe but then everything is this spring. I wrap basil and mozarella in slices of fried aubergine, then bake them in a rich tomato sauce – doesn’t use up a lot of basil, but tastes good!

  5. Miss Piggy says:

    I’ve been adding my basil to a red curry that I make…but I think I need to pull it all up this weekend and make a pesto to freeze. When can we replant basil do you think???

    • Liz says:

      I sowed basil seed inside at the start of July last year and it did fine. I moved it into a cold frame once it germinated and it survived OK.

  6. Nina says:

    I planted heaps of basil this year as I hoped it would deter the whitefly (nup). So I’ve frozen lots of pesto (in ice cube trays) but I doubt I’ll be able to use it all. I’ve also frozen whole leaves of basil (individually on a tray first then decanting them into a container so they don’t stick together). They retain much of their colour that way but turn black as soon as they are defrosted which is not a problem as you say, when used in cooking.

    Of course, basil and tomatoes is one of the best tastes, ever! I often use fresh basil (chopped) and cherry tomatoes (halved) or larger tomatoes (diced) and add to cooked, cooled pasta (trivelle is my favourite for this) with a good splash of olive oil and a generous grind of pepper plus some sea salt flakes. Any juices from the cut tomatoes should be added, too. I like it best served at room temperature. Very simple and tasty! It can also be heated gently (so as not to cook the basil or tomatoes). Or you can eat it straight out of the fridge. A sprinkle of chilli flakes ain’t half bad, either.

    • Liz says:

      Lovely ideas as always. I must get onto my pesto freezing – I keep doing batches but then losing cooking mojo during the following week and using them up.

  7. Louise says:

    A slice of home grown tomato, a slice of buffalo mozzarella and a basil leaf shredded, drizzled with olive oil and a drop of balsamic vinegar.

    Pesto is a dish from heaven.

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