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Fresh Basil Recipes (2021)

Time to put that fragrant fresh basil to good use. We’re sharing several fresh basil recipes to inspire ideas for your own crop or the abundant basil at local markets at the end of summer.

Fresh basil is one of the great smells and tastes of summer. It’s wonderful in soups, pasta, appetizers, pizza and salads.

Fresh basil in pots

 I tend to use it as a garnish or flavor enhancer as you would any herb. Or in a classic pesto that I incorporate into other dishes. Sometimes I freeze basil to add to soups or stews in the Fall as well. So I consider basil a work horse when it comes to herbs.

For all the basics about basil and other herbs, check out our article on Herbs: The Bare Essentials.

How to Keep Basil Fresh

  • Basil is best stored on the counter, not in the fridge. Just snip of the ends of the stems, plunk them in a glass of water, cover loosely with a plastic bag. Keeps for 7-14 days.
  • There are several ways to freeze fresh basil – chopped in oil, blanched or flash freeze. Spruce Eats has a great article on each of these methods.
  • Shortcut: If you don’t want to bother with freezing, buy packages of frozen basil cubes. I do this all the time in the winter. 1 cube = 1 teaspoon. Excellent.

How to Measure Basil

  • One large bunch of fresh basil contains about 60 sprigs.
  • 1 bunch will make about 1 cup of chopped basil (or 2 cups of loosely packed basil).
  • I don’t suggest substituting dried basil for fresh, but if there is no fresh basil available, use 1 teaspoon dried for 2-3 teaspoons fresh.

10 Fresh Basil Recipes

First up is a classic basil pesto because it can be used in so many recipes. And although there are several good pestos on the market, making it fresh just takes 5 minutes and tastes amazing.

Classic Basil Pesto

Classic Basil Pesto Recipe
Basil Pesto. Classic recipe with basil, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic and olive oil.
Process garlic, basil, oil, walnuts or pine nuts and Parmesan cheese in a processor and voila. Classic basil pesto in 5 minutes. A perfect way to use up that summer garden basil. (makes 1/2 cup)
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Recipes with Basil Pesto

The following are recipes that incorporate the pesto above. My fave is the Pesto Orzo and Vegetables or the Eggplant Parmesan (30 minutes). I can’t decide.

Pesto Orzo and Vegetables
pesto and vegetable orzo in a bowl with vine tomatoes beside bowl
A taste of summer, Pesto Orzo and Vegetables is a super flavorful, healthy dish with pesto, spinach, green beans and tomatoes. Ready in 20 minutes.
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Easy Eggplant Parmesan (30 minutes)
Eggplant Parmesan on plate with fork with parsley scattered around F
This easy Eggplant Parmesan recipe has no breading, no frying and no pre-salting. It's unfussy, healthy and simply delicious. Good shortcuts cut the time down to 30 minutes.
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Grilled Pesto Shrimp Panzanella
Grilled Pesto Shrimp Panzanella on a plate f
Grilled Pesto Shrimp Panzanella combines fresh tomatoes, grilled bread, plump shrimp and pesto. Summer backyard fare at its best.
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Pesto Ricotta Crostini Appetizers
Peach, Pesto, Ricotta Appetizers. Just a few minutes to put together if you have pesto on hand. Flavour combination is amazing!
Guests rave about these Pesto Ricotta Crostini appetizers.  So simple to make and the flavor combination is fantastic.
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Cauliflower 'Rice' Recipe with Pesto
Cauliflower 'rice' with Pesto in bowl 3
Healthy and low in calories, this Cauliflower 'Rice' recipe with Pesto is a vibrant side dish bursting with basil, spinach, garlic, lemon and Parmesan flavors.
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Recipes Using Fresh Basil as a Herb

Herb Potato Salad
Herb Potato Salad in bowl on tray in garden
Herb potato salad is a perfect light summer side dish that's quick and easy to make and bursting with flavor. Great for picnics (no mayo), potlucks and BBQs.
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Fresh Tomato Pasta with Lemon and Olives
Fresh tomato pasta with lemon and olives is a beautiful blend of sweet summer-ripe tomatoes, lemon-basil zing, salty olives, capers and Parmesan.
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Tomato Basil Grilled Salmon Recipe
Tomato Basil Grilled Salmon with Mango
Tomato Basil Grilled Salmon bursts with rich flavor from tomato paste, garlic, olive oil, basil, thyme and lemon. The mango is a perfect garnish.
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Easy Cast Iron Pizza (22 minutes)
finished pizza on cutting board
A simple cast iron pizza will take just 22 minutes to make - faster than delivery! This delicious easy pizza has a super crispy crust (thick or thin) and no pizza stone is needed.
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Shrimp and Polenta
Herb Shrimp on Polenta on a black plate 5
Treat yourself to summer comfort food - shrimp and polenta. Plump shrimp, smothered in a fresh herb lemon garlic dressing, and served over creamy cheesy Polenta. Quick and easy with a good shortcut.
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And don’t forget a simple tomato salad with summer ripe tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and chopped fresh basil. I eat that every day for weeks in the summer during tomato season. Yum!

tomato salad in bowl on table outdoors

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