What do I do with my Basil?

We wait all year for summer and the first taste of fresh basil. Basil is one herb in particular that really shines when it’s fresh and it can be added to so many recipes- sandwiches, drinks, dressings, egg dishes…the list is endless. Here are a few unique ideas for this wonderful herb.

Basil Vinaigrette

1 small garlic clove, 1 cup packed basil leaves, coarsely chopped, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar,  pinch of crushed red pepper, Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, pulse the garlic until chopped. Add the basil and pulse until finely chopped. Add the oil, vinegar and crushed red pepper and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Basil Butter

Mix minced basil into whipped butter and spread on corn or mix into hot vegetables

Tomato and Basil Bread Pudding

Butter, for the baking dish, 1/2 (8-ounce) multigrain loaf, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced, 2 garlic cloves, minced, 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1 packed cup chopped fresh basil, 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, 7 large  eggs, at room temperature, 1 cup whole milk

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Butter a 9 x 13 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Add the bread cubes and set aside.  In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, until slightly soft. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil.   Pour the tomato mixture over the bread cubes, add the Parmesan, and combine well. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Pour the custard over the bread mixture and gently toss to coat.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until slightly puffed and golden. Cool for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Caprese Salad

Layer garden fresh tomatoes, slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and whole leaves of basil; drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and coarse salt.

Basil Hot Tea

Soak a few leaves in a cup of hot water with tea leaves to relieve indigestion. Serve plain or with a touch of honey.

Corn and Basil Cakes

1/2 cup  white whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup  low-fat milk, 2  large eggs, 2 tbsp canola oil, divided, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon  salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, 2 cups fresh corn kernels, 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Whisk flour, milk, eggs, 1 tablespoon oil, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in corn and basil. Brush a large nonstick skillet lightly with some of the remaining 1 tablespoon oil; heat over medium heat until hot (but not smoking). Cook 4 cakes at a time, using about 1/4 cup batter for each, making them about 3 inches wide. Cook until the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining oil and batter, making 10 cakes total. Reduce the heat as necessary to prevent burning. This is a great side for barbequed chicken or grilled steak

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