Summer Love: Top 6 Ways to Use Basil

This time of year, our cooking seems to start shifting just to accommodate more basil. We just can't get enough! Fully half of our kitchen window sill is occupied by basil plants, and we plan on using them heavily from now until whenever cooler weather takes them from us. Here are our favorite ways to use basil. What are yours?1. Small Batches of Pesto - Our little kitchen plants usually don't produce enough basil for huge batches of pesto, so we've taken to making mini-batches all summer long. We throw a cup or so of basil leaves, a handful of nuts, and a generous helping of parmesan into the blender and add just enough oil to make it into a paste. This might be only enough for one batch of pasta, but it hits the spot!

2. Fresh Green Salads - We roll a few leaves together, slice them into ribbons, and toss them with our other salad greens. The burst of basil flavor every few bites is pure heaven.

3. Simple Pasta - One of our favorite summer dishes is simply fresh pasta, a little oil, heirloom tomatoes, and whole leaves of basil. So fresh and good! Of course, a sprinkling of shredded basil is a great finishing touch to any other pasta dish, as well.

4. Pizza - A handful of thinly sliced basil sprinkled over the pizza as it comes out of the oven is out of this world! It adds a fresh, bright flavor that seems to bring all the others together.

5. Stir-Fries - Stir-fry dishes are already a summer favorite since they use all our favorite fresh veggies, are quick to make, and don't heat up the kitchen. We like to toss a handful of whole basil leaves in at the very end of cooking for an added flavor element.

6. Cocktails and Beverages - From lemonade to gin gimlets, basil works surprisingly well in liquid form! Muddling the leaves helps to release their fragrant and flavorful oils. Mixed into any beverage, we get a subtle basil flavor in every sip.

What are your favorite ways to use basil during the summer?

Related: Quick Tip: Add Basil Last

(Image: Emma Christensen)

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