Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday 13: Thirteen ways I love basil

I just finished plucking basil leaves off my seven basil plants, the final harvest of a very full season. Two kitchen garbage bags came in from the garden and got plucked down to three grocery bags... so there is plenty of basil love to go around. How appropriate for Thursday 13, to list my favorite ways to eat this lovely herb!

1. Pesto. I always need a pot of this in my fridge. Always.

2. Aglio Olio. I will never forget the first time I ate this combination: angel hair pasta with tomatoes, basil, garlic and parmesan. Dear friend Corinne made this for me when she moved to Walla Walla in 1990. She had been living in Vancouver for a while, came back to the small town with her big city cookin' ways and whipped this up for me. I had never had this combination before. I have no idea what culinary rock I'd been hiding under, but whatever. I have made this dozens of times in the intervening decades. And have loved it every single time.

3. Basil and nectarines. This is a great combination. I've sliced nectarines and basil and tossed them together for a quick salad, I've eaten them in a sandwich with cream cheese. Here's a preserve I'm thinking of making this weekend. Sounds delicious to me.

4. Panzanella. Classic Italian bread salad with tomatoes, basil and whatever else you might have lying about the kitchen.

5. Caprese. So simple, so lovely: Tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Drizzle the EVOO and go!

6. Basil and figs. Yes, so shocking that I would want to put these two together! A great bruschetta topping is chopped fresh figs, basil chiffonade and goat cheese. Heaven.

7. Infused/dipping oil. Garlic, basil, rosemary in grapeseed oil... Hand me the crusty bread and let's go!

8. Basil stuffed chicken breast. I have made this many times, most often in a catering scenario, with a sundried tomato and shallot cream sauce. Slice into a chicken breast to create a long pocket, stuff with chopped basil and goat cheese, brown the chicken in a saute pan with some olive oil, then transfer to a baking dish, cover with the sundried tomato cream sauce and bake until done. Easy and a real crowd-pleaser.

9. Basil polenta. A wonderful accompaniment for grilled steak or chicken, and even makes great "noodles" for a unique lasagna. Or, just pile on the cheese and have a bowl by itself. Yum.

10. Basil creamed corn. I have made this recipe a number of times, and have fond memories of serving it for our wedding/Thanksgiving dinner four happy years ago.

11. Sesame noodles with peanuts and Thai basil. I just had to throw this one in there to mitigate the heavy Italian influence on this list. I love a good nutty noodle bowl!

12. Pasta carbonara with basil. Take the classic and throw in basil. Basil makes it better, I swear.
13. Pizza margherita. Classic. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Tell me in the comments how you best like your basil!

To find other Thursday 13-ers, click here. Happy TT!


  1. Okay. Now I'm hungry.

    I have been known to toast bread topped with basil and cheese. Basic and nummy.

  2. Wow, I'm going to be cooking for days after reading your post. I enjoy living in a climate where I can grow basil outside almost all year round. In fact last winter it survive under a small mulch barrier.

    Calico Contemplations
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  3. Oh yeah for pesto! Very interesting post...I learned a lot...and now I'm hungry! LOL

  4. Oooh, all of those sound delicious! Thanks for the inspiration :)


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