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Basil Recipes Beyond Pesto

Pesto has long been a staple in our kitchens, and it’s a great way to use up fresh basil when the herb explodes in our gardens. But we love basil so many other ways—as an accent and as the main event in salads, drinks, and even desserts. Here are over seven ways to use basil, and not one a pesto recipe.

See more: Recipes with Basil

Basil Recipes Beyond Pesto

Potato, Spinach and Red Pepper Frittata

This basil-laced potato and vegetable frittata, adapted from a recipe by author Tamasin Day-Lewis, makes a satisfying lunch.

SERVES 8

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. medium waxy potatoes
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups baby spinach
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. thinly sliced basil
8 eggs, beaten
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Boil 1” water in a 4-qt. saucepan fitted with a steamer insert. Steam potatoes, covered, adding more boiling water as needed, until tender, 1 hour. Let cool, then peel and thinly slice.

2. Heat oven broiler. Heat oil in an ovenproof 12” nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook garlic, pepper, and onion until soft, 3–4 minutes. Add spinach; cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in reserved potatoes, the butter, salt, and pepper. Stir in half the basil and the eggs and reduce heat to medium; cook until golden on the bottom, 8–10 minutes. Broil until set and golden on top, about 3 minutes. Garnish with remaining basil.
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The Green Thumb

In this refreshing spring cocktail, muddled basil and tarragon add freshness and intensify Pernod’s green hue, while a squirt of fresh lime juice and splash of champagne cut through the sweet anise flavor.

SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. superfine sugar
1 tsp. Van Vliet black & white sweet powder
1 lime wedge, plus ¼ tsp. fresh lime juice
3 basil leaves
2 sprigs tarragon
½ oz. anise liqueur, preferably Pernod
½ oz. simple syrup
4 oz. dry champagne

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine sugar and sweet powder in a saucer. Rub the lime wedge around the rim of a chilled martini or coupe glass; dip the rim in sweet powder to coat. Set aside. Combine lime juice, basil, tarragon, Pernod, and syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice; shake vigorously. Strain into glass and top with champagne.

See More: 20 Classy Cocktails

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Black Pepper and Honey-Marinated Cantaloupe with Basil

Cantaloupe is marinated in honey and spices, then tossed with basil and sea salt for this refreshing summer salad. Just about any spice can be added to the honey syrup for marinating melon; honeydew also works well.

SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

½ cup honey
2 tsp. whole black peppercorns, crushed
1 slightly underripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 sprigs basil. plus 3 tbsp. thinly sliced
Flaky sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Whisk honey, black pepper, and 1 cup boiling water in a 9” x 13” baking dish; allow to cool. Add cantaloupe; toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

2. Drain and discard excess syrup from cantaloupe. Sprinkle with thinly sliced basil and salt.

See More: 6 Summery Cantaloupe Recipes

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Pizza Margherita

This most iconic of pizzas is topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves, the colors of the Italian flag.

MAKES FOUR 10” PIZZAS

INGREDIENTS

1 recipe Naples-style pizza dough 
Fine semolina, for dusting
1 recipe Naples-style pizza sauce 
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
16 fresh basil leaves
Olive oil, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Place a pizza stone under the broiler; heat for 30 minutes. Working in 4 batches, dust 1 ball dough with semolina. Using your fingertips, press dough into a 10” circle about ¼” thick, leaving a 1” crust around the edges. Hold dough straight up, and with fingertips circling crust, slide fingers around crust in a circular motion as you would turn a steering wheel until dough in the center is stretched to about ⅛” thick; transfer to a semolina-dusted pizza peel.

2. Spread ½ cup sauce over dough, and distribute a quarter each of the cheese and basil leaves; drizzle with oil. Slide pizza onto stone; broil until cheese melts and crust is puffed and charred in spots, 3-4 minutes. Serve hot.

See More: Saveur’s Ultimate Pizza Guide

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Basil Gelato

Vividly green and intensely flavored, this smooth basil gelato is a perfectly unexpected dessert.

MAKES 1 QUART

INGREDIENTS

2 cups basil leaves
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp. salt
6 egg yolks

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine basil, milk, cream, sugar, zest, salt, and yolks in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a 2-qt. saucepan and heat gently until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and pour through a fine strainer; chill in the refrigerator. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve garnished with fresh basil leaves.

See More: 25 Best Ice Cream and Gelato Recipes

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Pan-Fried Eggplant with Balsamic, Basil and Capers

Creamy, mild eggplant pairs with briny capers, floral basil, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction for a knockout appetizer or side dish.

SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup olive oil
2 small eggplant (about 8 oz. each), trimmed and sliced ⅓ thick crosswise
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. capers
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced
INSTRUCTIONS

1. Simmer vinegar over medium heat in a 1-qt. saucepan until reduced to a thick syrup, about 15 minutes.

2. Heat half the oil in a 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches and adding more oil as needed, fry eggplant, flipping once, until golden-brown, 5–7 minutes; transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter; drizzle with balsamic; garnish with capers and basil.

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Plum-Basil Gin Fizz

Deep and sweet, this cocktail is an ideal vehicle for summer’s juicy red plums.

MAKES 1 DRINK

INGREDIENTS

1 ripe plum, pitted, half diced and half sliced
5 large basil leaves
2 oz. gin
1 oz. simple syrup 
Seltzer, to top drink
Lime wedge, for garnish
INSTRUCTIONS

1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the diced plum and basil leaves. Fill the shaker with ice; add the gin & simple syrup. Place on the shaker lid and shake for 1 minute.

2. Pour into a glass filled the sliced plum. Fill glass to the top with seltzer and garnish with lime wedge.