How To Use Basil In Cooking Recipes And Tips

Hey everyone! I’m Monty Don and today, I’m here to share with you some of my favorite recipes and tips on how to use basil in cooking. Basil is such a versatile ingredient that can be used in so many different dishes from salads to soups to pasta sauces. Plus, it adds a delicious flavor and aroma to any meal. And even better, learning how to cook with basil not only lets you create unique dishes but also brings people together around the kitchen table – something we all have an innate desire for. So let’s get started!

Choosing The Right Basil

Basil is one of the most beloved herbs in kitchens around the world, and with its vibrant flavor it’s no surprise why. From pesto to caprese salad, basil adds a special something that can turn an ordinary dish into a masterpiece – but before you get started on your culinary journey, there are some things to consider when choosing the right type of basil for your recipes.

When growing basil, many varieties exist – from mild Genovese Basil to spicy Thai Basil. Depending on your recipe, selecting the perfect variety for maximum flavor impact is key! If you’re making Italian dishes such as pesto or pizza margherita then Genovese Basil is best because it offers a subtle sweetness and delicate aroma which won’t overpower other flavors. For Asian-inspired dishes like stir-fries and curries opt for Holy Basil instead; this variety has a strong peppery taste which pairs nicely with chili peppers and garlic.

For those who enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, Lemon Basil provides zesty notes while Purple Ruffles add color to salads and sandwiches. Once you’ve chosen the ideal basil variety all that stands between you and deliciousness are simple tips to help bring out its full potential: always use fresh leaves rather than dried ones whenever possible, don’t overblend so as not to compromise texture, keep an eye on salt levels – too much will drown out subtle nuances in flavors! With these tips at hand, your cooking adventures await!

Storing And Preparing Basil

Storing and Preparing Basil is a great way to enhance the flavors of any dish. I like to keep my basil fresh by wrapping it in damp paper towels, placing it inside an open plastic bag and keeping it in the refrigerator. That way, you can enjoy its flavor whenever you need it!

When cooking with basil, be sure to add it at the end as it doesn’t take long for its aroma and taste to evaporate if heated too much. You can also try infusing your favorite herbs into oils or vinegars – just store them covered in a dark place such as a cupboard or pantry for one week before using them! Drying herbs is another excellent option; simply gather up some sprigs of basil, tie them together with string then hang upside down from somewhere dry and breezy until they are completely dried out – this usually takes around two weeks.

With these tips, you’ll soon have delicious aromas emanating from your kitchen every time you cook with basil. Whether used fresh or dried, this herb can bring new life to ordinary dishes transforming them into something special that will please even the most discerning palate!

Basil Pesto

Storing and preparing basil is so simple, yet it can make all the difference in the flavor of your dishes. As you are probably aware, basil is one of the most popular herbs used in cooking. There are many ways to utilize this versatile herb but today we will focus on two: making homemade pesto and using it as a flavorful addition to marinara sauce or herb butter.

Making traditional Italian-style pesto requires only four ingredients: fresh basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, and extra virgin olive oil. To begin, simply blend these ingredients together until they form a thick paste. You may also add some pine nuts for texture if desired. This delicious condiment is perfect for tossing with cooked pasta or spreading on crusty bread slices – just be sure to store any remaining pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator!

Using basil as an ingredient in sauces like marinara or to create flavored butters provide endless possibilities. Here are three tips for success when incorporating this fantastic herb into your favorite recipes:

  1. Start small by adding tiny amounts of chopped fresh basil at first; its potent aroma can overwhelm other flavors if too much is added right away.
  2. Patience pays off – allow time for simmering after adding basil (about 10 minutes) so that its delicate notes have time to infuse throughout the dish before serving.
  3. When using dried basil instead of fresh, use half the amount called for in a recipe since its flavor tends to be more concentrated than fresh leaves.
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No matter how you choose to enjoy this delightful herb, I’m sure you’ll find yourself returning again and again to experiment with different combinations of flavors!

Caprese Salad

When choosing tomatoes for a Caprese salad, opt for flavorful heirloom varieties. I usually like to use extra-virgin olive oil to prepare the basil by either chopping it or tearing it into small pieces. To assemble your salad, start by arranging the tomatoes on a plate and add a pinch of sea salt. Then top the tomatoes with the fresh basil. Now you can drizzle with olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. Finally, finish it off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and a few grinds of black pepper. Enjoy!

Choosing Tomatoes

Choosing tomatoes for a Caprese salad is one of the most critical steps in creating an amazing dish. The tomato should be as ripe as possible while still holding its shape, so I always look for an even red color with no green patches or blemishes. Firmness and juiciness are also important criteria to consider when selecting your fruit – if it’s too soft, the slices won’t hold their shape on the plate; if it’s not juicy enough, the pairing flavors will be lost. When cooking techniques such as roasting or grilling come into play, firmer tomatoes tend to work better because they’ll soften under heat without turning mushy. For me, nothing beats richly flavored heirloom varieties like Brandywine or Cherokee Purple, but any good quality tomato can make a delicious Caprese salad!

Preparing Basil

Once you’ve chosen the perfect tomatoes, it’s time to turn your attention to the basil. Harvesting the herb is a simple process – simply snip off leaves as needed with scissors and discard any that show signs of wilting or browning. I like to combine fresh-picked basil with some lightly cooked variations for contrast in flavour; this can be done by quickly frying larger pieces of stem over medium heat until they just start to char. Cooking techniques such as roasting or grilling also work well, producing an intense richness without sacrificing texture. For me, nothing beats serving up freshly picked leaves alongside juicy slices of tomato – both ingredients are essential for creating an unforgettable Caprese salad!

Assembling Salad

The next step in constructing the perfect Caprese salad is assembling all of your ingredients. I love to begin with a layer of juicy tomatoes, followed by a sprinkle of cheese and a generous helping of basil leaves. For an added zing, you can mix up some spice combinations such as oregano or chili flakes – just make sure not to overpower the delicate flavours! Finally, top it off with some fresh garnish like parsley or chives and you’ll have created something truly special. To finish things off, drizzle over your favourite dressing and enjoy!

Basil-Garlic Pasta

I love summertime recipes that make use of the incredible bounty of fresh produce. An easy and delicious way to take advantage of these seasonal flavors is with a basil-garlic pasta dish. This recipe combines two classic ingredients, creating an aromatic sauce with bold flavor and minimal effort.

Type Ingredient Amount
Pasta Spaghetti or Linguine noodles 1 pound dry
Spice Blend Garlic cloves, Basil leaves (dried or fresh) & Olive oil 5 cloves minced, 2 tablespoons chopped/minced, ¼ cup respectively
Optional Toppings* Grilled shrimp, Summer sandwiches etc. See Note Below *

The key here is in the garlic-basil blend; you want to create something savory but not overpowering. Start by heating some olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Once it’s hot enough add your minced garlic and let it sizzle for about 30 seconds before stirring in the basil. Cook until fragrant then add cooked spaghetti noodles into the mix and toss everything together until evenly coated with the flavorful concoction! Serve as-is or topped with grilled shrimp or whatever other topping suits your fancy – this dish will be sure to please any crowd. Enjoy!

Basil-Infused Oils And Vinegars

Now let’s move onto something a bit more exciting and flavorful: basil-infused oils and vinegars! This is an easy way to add the delicious flavor of basil to your everyday cooking. Whether you’re making salads, marinades or simply drizzling over some freshly cooked pasta, these infusions will elevate any dish.

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There are two main techniques for infusing oil with herbs – cold infusion and hot infusion. Cold infusion takes longer but produces a much fresher taste whereas hot infusion is faster and produces a stronger flavor. Whichever method you choose, be sure to use fresh basil leaves as this ensures that the flavors won’t become too overpowering.

When it comes to turning those fragrant ingredients into flavored salts, there are several options available. You can purchase pre-made mixes from specialty stores or make your own by combining salt with dried herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme and rosemary – don’t forget the basil! Once you’ve got your mix ready, store in airtight containers away from direct sunlight so that they keep their potency. Sprinkle over dishes at the end of cooking for an extra burst of flavor – trust me when I say you won’t regret it!

Basil Soups And Stews

I’ve always found that basil is an amazing flavour to add to soups and stews. Nothing beats a delicious basil soup or stew on a cold evening! Let’s talk about some great recipes for both, so you can make the most of this wonderful herb. Basil soups can be made with a variety of ingredients, so let’s start with some recipes for those. And of course, basil-infused stews are a classic, so let’s explore some recipes for those too!

Basil Soup Recipes

Basil soup is the perfect way to enjoy this fragrant herb. It’s a versatile dish – you can make it as simple or elaborate as you like, and there are countless variations on how to make it. From hearty stews with chunks of vegetables to creamy soups made with cream and pureed basil, there’s something here for everyone. A great place to start is by making a stir-fry basil soup: start by sautéeing onion, garlic, carrots and celery in oil until softened. Add your choice of protein (chicken, beef or tofu) and cook until browned. Then add some diced tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Lastly, stir in chopped fresh basil leaves for flavor before serving! For something lighter yet still packed with flavor, try out this pesto soup recipe: combine cooked cannellini beans with vegetable stock in a pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and blend until smooth using an immersion blender. Stir in prepared pesto sauce (homemade or store bought). Serve hot garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley leaves – delicious! Basil soups offer so many possibilities – why not give one a try today?

Basil Stew Recipes

When it comes to basil stew recipes, there’s no shortage of delicious possibilities. From herby broths infused with fragrant herbs like thyme or rosemary, to sauces made with freshly chopped basil and garlic – the options are endless! When cooked low and slow, these stews offer up a range of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds and make you feel right at home. Whether you’re looking for something hearty and filling or light yet flavorful, basil-infused stews can be tailored to suit any palate. Plus, they’re incredibly easy to whip up – just add all your ingredients into one pot and let simmer away until tender perfection is achieved! So why not give it a go today? You won’t regret taking the time to create this herbaceous delight – I guarantee it’ll become an instant family favorite in no time!

Roasted Vegetables With Basil

I’m always looking for ways to add more flavor and freshness to my dishes, and one of the best ingredients I’ve found is basil. It’s so versatile – it can be used in salads, grilled fish, pastas or rice bowls. Plus, it adds a great aroma to any dish you’re making!

To get started with using basil in cooking, my favorite way is to roast vegetables with some olive oil and freshly chopped basil leaves. The combination of flavors really brings out a depth that you don’t often find in traditional recipes. Plus, roasting them gives them an incredible texture too – they become crunchy on the outside but still soft enough inside that they melt in your mouth.

Not only does this recipe taste amazing, but it’s also incredibly easy to make! All you need are some basic ingredients like garlic, onions and carrots plus the olive oil and basil mentioned above. Simply mix all these together then put everything onto a baking tray before popping it into the oven; within 30 minutes you’ll have yourself a delicious side dish that goes wonderfully with anything from grilled fish to rice bowls. Enjoy!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Health Benefits Of Consuming Basil?

Basil is an incredibly nutritious herb with a unique flavor profile that can transform any dish from ordinary to extraordinary. Not only does it add depth and richness, but consuming basil on a regular basis also offers many health benefits. It contains vitamin A, carotenoids and flavonoid antioxidants which helps reduce inflammation while protecting your cells against free radical damage. Basil’s nutrient content has been linked to improved digestion as well as increased cognitive function and energy levels – making this humble herb something of a superfood!

Does Basil Pair With Any Other Herbs Or Spices?

When it comes to cooking techniques, basil pairs well with many other herbs and spices. It’s a great addition to any culinary creation, whether you’re making an Italian dish or something more exotic. Whether you use fresh leaves of dried flakes, the herb can be used as part of a mix along with oregano and thyme for an aromatic blend that will tantalize your taste buds! You can also add some garlic, pepper and olive oil for a unique flavor combination that’ll take your dishes to the next level. Don’t forget about parsley too – adding just a few tablespoons worth into sauces or salads gives them a fantastic earthy flavor.

Is There A Difference Between Fresh And Dried Basil?

Yes, there is a difference between fresh and dried basil. Fresh basil has a much more intense flavor compared to its dry counterpart. Its aroma infuses the air when added to dishes such as pesto or sauces. Dried basil does not have the same intensity of flavor and won’t bring out the fragrant smell in cooking. When using dried basil, it’s important to take into consideration that you’ll need more than if you were using fresh; usually around three times as much! Additionally, try infusing oils with some freshly chopped up leaves for an extra zingy kick or adding them towards the end of cooking at lower temperatures since heat destroys their aromatic compounds quickly.

How Long Does Basil Last In The Refrigerator?

Storing basil correctly is an important part of ensuring its freshness and flavor. If you want to keep your basil for as long as possible, then the refrigerator is the best place to store it. To ensure maximum food safety, try to use up any stored basil within a week. However, if kept in an airtight container with some water at the bottom – like a small jar or glass filled with just enough water to cover the stems – it can last up to two weeks. So make sure you follow these simple storing tips, and you’ll be able enjoy all that delicious basil for longer!

Is It Safe To Eat Raw Basil Leaves?

Did you know that basil is the most popular herb in Italy, with 80% of Italian households consuming it regularly? But when it comes to eating raw basil leaves, many people are unsure if this is safe. Well, the good news is that yes, you can safely eat raw basil leaves! In fact, it adds a wonderful flavor and aroma to salads and other dishes – as long as you use it sparingly. Basil also works great for cooking – it’s commonly used in marinades and sauces for a unique taste. So don’t be afraid to try using basil in your meals today!


Basil is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Not only does it add flavour and texture, but its health benefits are also undeniable. I have found that combining basil with other herbs such as oregano or thyme creates delicious flavours for your recipes. The difference between fresh and dried basil is quite pronounced, so experiment to find the right balance for you. Storing fresh basil correctly will ensure it lasts longer in the refrigerator, while raw leaves can still provide plenty of taste when added sparingly to salads or sandwiches. So why not try adding some basil to your next meal – you won’t regret it!