Basil loves the summer heat, but I have to be vigilant in keeping the blossoms plucked off or else it will promptly go to seed and wither away. Thankfully, there are a multitude of lovely uses for basil to keep the plants nicely pruned and productive. A few favorites are:
Caprese salad- a summertime staple in our home, even the littlest (and pickiest) Love loves this!
The one above is a simple tossed together version.
You will need:
vine ripened tomatoes (don't even bother with those grocery store imposters)
fresh mozzarella (lovely if you make your own ... or buy from the grocery store)
fresh basil leaves (not dried, fresh is a must here)
extra virgin olive oil (your favorite brand or variety)
balsamic vinegar (or wine vinegar, or whatever you fancy)
freshly ground black pepper
Toss tomatoes and mozzarella in a serving dish.
Add a handful of torn basil leaves.
Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.
Sprinkle on sea salt and black pepper to taste.
This is a great light lunch. I serve this with garlic toasts, croutons, or gluten free crackers.
Here's a link to a very pretty Pioneer Woman version, if you have nice slicing tomatoes, this makes a beautiful presentation.
Basil also livens up the salad bowl, the pasta plate, and when there is lots and lots of basil needing preserving quick, I blend it into pesto and freeze in ice cubes, or make a simple basil & olive oil puree and freeze that. Then, when winter comes and the basil has gone away, I can pull a few pesto or basil paste cubes from the freezer and toss them into the soup or pasta sauce. Basil chopped and mixed into softened butter is delicious on bread or summer vegetables. Basil infused vinegar is beautiful, especially when made with purple basil, and makes delicious salad dressings and very nice gifts.
These are just a few simple ways I use up the bountiful basil in the herb garden.
What are your favorite ways to use basil?
What is your favorite variety- sweet, purple, Thai, holy, lemon, lettuce leaf ... ?
I enjoy them all! Lemon is my favorite, but that's no surprise, is it?