fresh basilBasil is a herb that really shines when it’s fresh.

Just think of a homemade marinara sauce with fresh basil and the flavor it imparts to the sauce. Beyond those familiar dishes we most associate with basil (tomato sauce, pizza, meatballs, Caprese salad), the herb can actually work wonderfully well in many more dishes, including cocktails and desserts.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to use up some of that extra basil from my garden.

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I really like the taste that the pistachios add to this sauce. Pesto also freezes well, so make a double batch. One for now and one for later.

Pistachio-Basil Pesto

Pistachio and fresh basil Pesto

Ingredients:

4 cups washed basil leaves
½ cup shelled pistachio nuts
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Place the pistachios, garlic, salt, and pepper in a processor bowl. Process until the nuts and garlic are chopped.

Add the basil leaves and process for a minute or two. In the opening spout at the top, pour the olive oil as you process.

Keep processing until the mixture is smooth. Pour into a storage container and refrigerate until needed.

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Serve this light dressing over a fresh green salad with a slice of warm garlic bread on the side.

Fresh Tomato and Basil Dressing

fresh basil and tomato dressing Makes about 1 1/2 cups Ingredients:

1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Store in a glass jar for easy pouring.

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This butter is a great addition to chicken, fish or steak. It is also good on grilled corn on the cob.

Lemon Basil Garlic Butter

garlic and fresh basil butter

Makes 8 tablespoons

Ingredients:

1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions:

Mix together all the ingredients until blended well.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week.

Looking for more fresh basil recipes, check out — Have Lots of Basil?

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