Monday, June 8, 2009

How to use fresh herbs: basil

Today, I went to Publix and bought a great loaf of multi-grain bread. On the way home, I thought of the perfect accompaniment: Basil butter.

I have only been using basil for a couple of years and have found it is a great way to enhance many foods. You can chop a few tablespoons into salads, blend it in a homemade salad dressing, or cook up a pesto to use as an accompaniment for meats and Italian dishes. Also, it makes pasta sauce into a real treat.

I used to think I had to use oregano, rosemary and thyme to make a good marinara, but I have found it is even better if I just use plenty of basil.

Back to the basil butter: Put a garlic clove and two to three basil leaves and a stick of softened butter into a mini food processor and chop on high. I like to add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the mixture to give it a smoother texture but some think the flavor is too strong. It keeps well in the refrigerator for at least a week and is very, very good on a great slice of bakery bread or Italian bread. Allow to sit out about 15 minutes before serving so it will spread more easily.

Basil is easy to grow from seed and can even be found as a potted plant in the grocery store. You can grow it on your kitchen windowsill and is perfect in any summer garden. It won't last through the winter and you will need to start over every spring but it is an easy herb to grow.

I hope to find a few new ways to use basil before the summer is done so check back later.


  1. Publix does have great breads, and I'll bet it's yummy with this basil butter on it!

  2. If you grow tomatoes, basil is a must addition. Whether fresh or cooked. Fresh tomatoes tossed in a little oil and vinegar with chopped basil tossed in is wonderful, add some fresh cucumber or onions if you like. Or cooked, you can chop tomatoes and saute them in a little olive oil with chopped basil to put over pasta, or saute mushrooms, onion, garlic, green peppers and then add the tomatoes and basil (you only want to cook the tomatoes and basil for a few minutes) and you have a very fresh tasty topping for your pasta.