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Kalyn's Kitchen

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!

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Cooking with Fresh Basil top photo collage

I’ve been writing a series of posts about Cooking with Fresh Herbs and so far I’ve given you tips for growing and using Mint and French Tarragon. But today I’m extra excited to be talking about Cooking with Fresh Basil because even though I’m growing seven different herbs along the path to my front door, basil is the garden 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 I enjoy the distinctive flavor of basil just as much in winter dishes as I do in the summer. 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!


Cooking with Fresh Basil - basil growing

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 have 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?

Of course basil is amazing with fresh tomatoes and it also goes well with any creamy mild cheese like fresh Mozzarella, goat cheese, Parmesan, or Ricotta. And 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 is great with zucchini, summer squash, green beans, cucumbers, olives, and many other vegetables. It’s great combined with lemon, capers, oregano, fennel, garlic, mustard, parsley, rosemary, and most every kind of 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!

I hope you enjoy trying some recipes with fresh basil from Kalyn’s Kitchen and some of my blogging friends!

Basil Pesto with LemonBasil Pesto with Lemon

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 finished dressing in jar

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 Stacks

Grilled Zucchini Caprese Stacks 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!

Top photo for Cheesy Low-Carb Zucchini and Basil Strata

Cheesy Low-Carb Zucchini and Basil Strata is a recipe where zucchini and basil go together in a delightful way!

Crustless Three-Cheese Tomato-Basil Quiche title photo

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 found on KalynsKitchen.com

Cauliflower Rice with Basil, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts is a think-outside-the-box idea for using fresh basil, and this is really delicious!

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

Basil adds an extra flavor punch to this amazing Green Bean and Tomato Salad.

Roasted Summer Squash with Feta Cheese and Basil finished dish on serving plate

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 on serving plate

Asparagus with Basil Vinaigrette is quick and easy to make for a low-carb side dish, and this is absolutely a wow!

How to Preserve Fresh Basil on the Countertop

If you’re buying bunches of basil you’ll want to read this post on How to Preserve Fresh Basil on the Countertop.

How to Freeze Fresh Basil collage photo

If you have lots of basil growing in your herb garden, I hope you’re freezing it! 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!

Low-Carb No-Noodle Lasagna with Sausage and Basil found on KalynsKitchen.com

And recipes like this Low-Carb No-Noodle Lasagna with Sausage and Basil are one of the reasons I love to freeze basil to use it during the winter!

Fresh Basil with Beans, Grains, and Pasta:

Penne Pasta with Arugula, Basil, Ricotta, and Parmesan 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 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

Fresh Basil with Meat, Poultry, or Fish:

Paleo 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 with Basil and Peppers from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Lemon Basil Salmon from Wonky Wonderful
Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Basil Vinaigrette from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Pan-Fried Cod in Citrus and Basil Butter Sauce from Foodness Gracious

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
Artichoke Antipasto Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Tomato Salad with Hearts of Palm, Olives, and Feta from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Green Bean Summer Salad with Italian Sausage from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Marinated Fresh Mozzarella with Herbs from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen

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
R0asted Tomato Pasta Sauce with Italian Sausage and Basil from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade with Garlic and Herbs from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Fresh Basil with Tomatoes:

Tomato Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil from Low-Carb with Jennifer
Fresh Tomato Basil Soup from Joy Filled Eats
Garden Tomato No-Cook Sauce with Garlic, Basil, and Thyme from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Fresh Basil with Vegetables:

Barely-Cooked Asparagus with Basil Pesto from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Garlicky 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

Cooking with Fresh Basil Pinterest image

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    4 Comments on “Cooking with Fresh Basil”

  1. One of my favorite summer salads uses watermelon, seedless cucumbers, fresh mint and basil leaves, along with a honey/lime juice/olive oil dressing. Top it with some feta cheese and you have a savory, sweet, and herbal taste bud extravaganza!

  2. Thanks for the amazing list! I love basil and even I don’t have them in my garden, will try your list gradually 🙂