Cooking with Fresh Basil
Fresh basil is the summer herb that goes so well with fresh tomatoes, and here are my tips and recipes for Cooking with Fresh Basil. And if you’re growing basil and have an abundance of it, don’t miss my ideas for making pesto, making basil vinaigrette, and freezing fresh basil!
On this site there’s a series of posts about Cooking with Fresh Herbs and I’ve shared tips for growing and using Mint, Parsley, and French Tarragon. But today I’m excited to be talking about Cooking with Fresh Basil because even though I’ve been growing fresh herbs for many years, basil is the herb I look forward to the most every summer!
And it’s clear that I’m not the only one who loves fresh basil. It’s an ingredient in the most popular zucchini recipe on my blog and there are so many more popular recipes featured below where fresh basil is a star ingredient.
Of course fresh basil is amazing with summer produce like fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash, but it’s also a wonderful ingredient to add to pasta sauce, soup, and stew. And any time of year you come to my house you’ll always find frozen basil in the freezer.
You can also tell basil is a popular herb by the way basil plants show up every spring in Trader Joes and many other grocery stores! And the plants are often available all through the summer months, so it’s not too late to grow basil inside if you don’t have an outdoor garden space.
This post will give you tips for growing basil, freezing basil or preserving it on the counter, and of course my favorite recipes using fresh basil from Kalyn’s Kitchen and some ideas from my food blogging friends. If you’re someone who hasn’t cooked with basil that much I hope I can inspire you to try it!
Tips for Growing Basil:
Basil is quite easy to grow from seeds, and when I had a big garden I’d always buy some basil plants to get me started, and then plant seeds for later in the summer. Be sure to plant it in a spot that gets full sun. Let the basil plants dry out between watering. And the most important tip for growing basil is to trim the basil regularly!
See in the photo above how my plants look when they’ve been trimmed. I use the basil that’s trimmed off to make Basil Pesto with Lemon, Basil Vinaigrette, and to Freeze Fresh Basil to use during the winter.
What does Fresh Basil taste like?
If you’ve tasted pesto, you’re familiar with the flavor that makes basil so popular. But for those who have never tried fresh basil, I will attempt to describe. It’s definitely a slightly peppery herb, with a bit of licorice or anise flavor. There are many varieties of basil, and the type often used in Italian food, summer tomato salads, and to make pesto is often called sweet basil. Thai Basil and Lemon Basil are both quite different.
What foods does fresh basil go well with?
- Basil is amazing with fresh tomatoes!
- It goes well with any creamy mild cheese like fresh Mozzarella, goat cheese, Parmesan, or Ricotta.
- It’s definitely the most common herb used with pasta or pasta sauces.
- Basil is good with chicken, fish, pork, and most any kind of sausage.
- It’s great with zucchini, summer squash, green beans, cucumbers, olives, and many other vegetables.
- It combines well with lemon, capers, oregano, fennel, garlic, mustard, parsley, rosemary, and vinegar.
- There are also many more options than the ones I’ve listed here; let us know in the comments if you have a fun idea for using basil!
Favorite Recipes using Fresh Basil:
If you’re growing basil in your garden I hope you’re making Basil Pesto with Lemon! I’ve been making this homemade pesto for years and freezing it in ice cube trays. And if you don’t have quite as much basil but want to try making pesto there are recipes on the blog for Kale and Basil Pesto and Spinach and Basil Pesto.
Basil Vinaigrette is a treat with basil that I’ve been making for many years, and it’s a sign of summer when this shows up in my fridge. The Basil vinaigrette is amazing just drizzled over fresh tomatoes or grilled veggies, chicken, or fish. I’ve also used it as a dressing for so many favorite salads; see the big list of salad ideas below for ways to use this tasty dressing. And you can enter “basil vinaigrette” into the search bar on the blog for even more recipes using it.
Grilled Zucchini Caprese Salad is one of my favorite things to make when I have zucchini and fresh garden tomatoes, and the Basil Vinaigrette makes this a real wow!
Cheesy Zucchini and Basil Strata is a recipe where zucchini and basil go together in a delightful way!
Crustless Three-Cheese Tomato-Basil Quiche is an amazing recipes that uses fresh basil! I’ve also got a recipe for Crustless Tomato-Basil Breakfast Tarts if you’d like individual servings. I use my beloved Herb Scissors (affiliate link) to get those nice thin strips of fresh basil!
Cauliflower Rice with Basil, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts is a think-outside-the-box idea for using fresh basil, and this is really delicious!
Basil adds an extra flavor punch to this amazing Green Bean and Tomato Salad.
Roasted Summer Squash with Feta Cheese and Basil uses strips of fresh basil to add even more flavor to summer squash that’s roasted with Feta Cheese!
Asparagus with Basil Vinaigrette is quick and easy to make for a low-carb side dish, and this is absolutely a wow!
And recipes like this No-Noodle Lasagna with Sausage and Basil are one of the reasons I love to freeze basil to use it during the winter!
Tips for Preserving Fresh Basil
If you’re buying bunches of basil you’ll want to read this post on How to Preserve Fresh Basil on the Countertop.
My post on How to Freeze Fresh Basil is popular every simmer, and the frozen basil is great to use for basil vinaigrette, pasta sauce, soup, and stew! If you have lots of basil growing in your herb garden, I hope you’re freezing it!
Fresh Basil Recipes with Beans, Grains, and Pasta:
- Pasta with Creamy Arugula Sauce from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Basil Hummus from Simply Recipes
- White Bean Soup with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, and Basil from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Chickpea Soup with Tomatoes, Spinach, and Basil from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Cannellini Bean and Sausage Stew from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Fresh Basil Recipes with Eggs:
- Zucchini, Goat Cheese, and Basil Frittata from The Perfect Pantry
- Caprese Frittata with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Basil from Cookin’ Canuck
- Cheryl’s Egg Scrambled with Red Pepper, Basil, and Cheese from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Crustless Tomato-Basil Breakfast Tarts from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Fresh Basil Recipes with Meat, Poultry, or Fish:
- Italian Beef Stew with Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Basil from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Cheesy Meatloaf Stacks with Eggplant and Fresh Basil from Climbing Grier Mountain
- Thai-Inspired Ground Turkey Stir Fry from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Lemon Basil Salmon from Wonky Wonderful
- Pan-Fried Cod in Citrus and Basil Butter Sauce from Foodness Gracious
- Grilled Halibut with Basil Vinaigrette from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Recipes for Fresh Basil in Salads:
- Garden Cucumber Salad with Tuna and Basil from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Chicken Salad with Basil from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Strawberry, Basil, and Goat Cheese Salad from Cookie and Kate
- Tomato, Olive, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Baby Kale Caprese Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Caprese Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Mozzarella from Simply Recipes
- Summer Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Antipasto Artichoke Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Tomato Salad with Hearts of Palm, Olives, and Feta from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Green Bean Salad with Sausage and Olives from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Marinated Fresh Mozzarella with Herbs from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Recipes for Fresh Basil in Sauces, Dressings, or Dips:
- French Pistou Sauce from Julia Child from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce for the Freezer from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Fresh Basil Recipes with Tomatoes:
- Tomato Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil from Low-Carb with Jennifer
- Fresh Tomato Basil Soup from Joy Filled Eats
- Tomato-Basil No-Cook Pasta Sauce from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Fresh Basil Recipes with Vegetables:
- Asparagus with Basil Pesto from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Zucchini Noodles with Tomatoes and Burrata from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Zucchini Crust Pizza Margherita from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Julia Child’s Eggplant Pizzas from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Ratatouille Stew with Italian Sausage from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Instant Pot Ratatouille from Kalyn’s Kitchen