If you thought that basil was only used primarily as a garnish then it is about time that you dropped that notion and instead focused on the simple fact that this is a herb that is extremely versatile. Furthermore, with its distinctive flavor and real freshness you are going to discover that this is a herb that can add so much to so many recipes and indeed one of the major limitations that you are going to have is simply in your own imagination.
Basil has been used in recipes for thousands of years and there is no doubt that it has managed to really construct a particular image during that time. So, how can you best use it? What kind of recipes are going to be brought to life simply by using basil? Well, this list is by no means extensive as there are so many others that have not been included, but at the same time this should be enough to get you started.
1. Fish & Seafood Dishes.
Basil works exceptionally well with both fish and seafood dishes and if you are really wanting something a bit special then we recommend using lemon basil especially with fish. Furthermore, if you are planning on using a pesto in the dish then, once again, it is going to be basil that is able to make a huge difference.
2. Thai Basil Chicken.
Basil and chicken go so well together and when you then throw in some Southeast Asian influences then you have a recipe that is going to delight your tastebuds. For this, some people would once again go for lemon basil, but to be honest you are better off using the Thai sweet basil thanks to the slightly spicy undertones helping to bring the chicken to life while giving it an authentic Thai taste.
Orzo is a form of pasta where it is shaped more like large grains of rice. However, as it is an Italian dish then it does mean that basil has to be a key part of the ingredients simply because basil and Italian food are a match made in heaven. With this, you should consider Genovese basil or sweet Italian as they are both quite mild but will work in tandem with the pasta.
4. Basil Shrimp.
With basil shrimp, the type of basil that you end up using is going to depend on the kind of flavor you are hoping to achieve. There are lemon recipes out there as well as those that are more Asian in origin but generally speaking you should be looking for something relatively mild although if you are going Asian then cinnamon basil may be a good alternative.
5. Vegetable soups.
With vegetable soups, then there are a number of varieties of basil that could work well and really help to bring it to life. Varieties such as spicy bush or Greek basil are going to be ideal as they are not going to be too strong although this does depend on the type of vegetable soup that you are hoping to make. If you want an idea for a recipe, then a chilled summer squash soup with basil will be perfect.
Basil is something that can help to bring a salad to life and it can do so in so many ways. Whether it be by infusing the basil with vinegar or oil as a dressing or by including it in the dish itself there are so many options available to you. Think about using cardinal basil in a dressing or dark opal basil if you want something with a stronger taste in a salad. With salads there are no limits to what you can achieve so a tomato and peach salad with basil and red onion can be something a bit different.
Once again, the fact that we are talking about an Italian dish does mean that basil has to be an important ingredient. With this, we are looking at something along the lines of Genovese basil, sweet Italian, spicy bush or even Greek basil if you are looking for something that is a bit milder.
8. Basil burgers.
Basil burgers are capable of blowing your mind, but of course it means that you need to have the correct variety of basil for meat. In this instance, we are recommending the likes of Greek basil once again or even holy basil if you are looking for something a bit stronger.
If you have never thought about using basil in your appetizers, then it is time to change your approach. With this, you are looking at using a variety that is quite light so lemon basil is a good addition as is lime basil or even Christmas basil if you are looking for something slightly different with its fabulous fruity taste. For example, how about a smashed grape cocktail with basil?
10. Side dishes.
Basil can work with a number of amazing side dishes such as roasted peppers with basil, fried mozzarella with basil and nectarine with balsamic vinegar, or even zucchini with mint basil, and walnuts. The key here is to keep things quite mellow with the basil due to the various other flavors that are being brought into play and if you are dealing with vegetables then you are looking at African blue basil as a potential match.
Basil can be used in various desserts but of course you need to be careful with which one you use. Lemon basil is a favorite in this instance or even purple opal basil for something a bit different. How about a strawberry basil tart or lemon basil yogurt? With that, try some Greek yogurt, some lemon juice and basil mixed together for an amazing taste.
12. Basil ice cream.
This one is self-explanatory but basil ice cream is certainly going to be something a bit different. You can easily make your own whereby the basil is just included in the ingredients and to be adventurous how about having it with a strawberry sauce?
13. Strawberry basil paletas.
Once again, strawberry and basil seem to work well together and with this recipe you are looking at using a variety of basil that is not too pungent or it will over compensate for the strawberry. Subtlety is the best here as it will provide more of a balance when making them. Shred the basil, mix in with the strawberry puree and throw in the freezer.
14. Cakes and baking.
Yes, basil can work well even in cakes but you have to be careful with the variety. Purple opal basil is one variety you should consider. Once again, lemon cake is a favorite and you can boost that lemon taste with lemon basil or how about corn and basil cakes as an alternative?
15. Basil lemonade.
If you thought that it was just lemons that went into lemonade, then how about adding something extra to it by creating basil lemonade? It is a lot better than it sounds and you do not even have to just stick with lemon basil as the variety either. Alternatively, purple opal basil will provide you with something a bit different as it has a slight ginger taste to it.
16. Basil limeade.
On the other hand, you might want to give basil limeade a shot and of course that is going to generally include lime basil as the best variety in your list of ingredients. It all works in the exact same way as basil lemonade but the lime basil certainly provides a bit of an extra kick.
Basil can be used in a variety of cocktails and we are not just talking about a mojito. We mentioned earlier how it can be used in a smashed grape cocktail but there are a number of others also out there. How about a gin basil smash cocktail? Or a strawberry and basil Martini? Maybe even a basil lime cooler where the main drink is vodka? This is one area where it is really a case of just giving it a go.
Pesto is something that is strongly associated with basil and there are so many varieties that can be used for this. You are looking at either Genovese basil, sweet Italian or how about Pesto Perpetuo? Blend it, mix with olive oil and some Parmesan and throw in some garlic and you are done.
19. Infused oil.
Basil is a wonderful addition to oil in order to give it a completely different taste where it can be used partly as a marinade or as a dressing. The red rubin variety is a wonderful option as is cardinal basil if you are looking for something a bit stronger. Add it to the oil and let it sit for a period of time and you are done.
20. Basil mayo.
Basil can completely change the taste of mayo and bring it to life in ways that you never expected. The type of basil that works well with this is going to really depend on whether you are looking for something quite pungent and spicy or something slightly more mellow. The main thing is to shred the leaves and mix it in to get the taste and then use as required.
21. Basil butter.
Basil butter is going to prove to be rather useful in a number of ways. Once it is mixed into the butter you can then use it on baked potato or corn on the cob as it is going to really lift those kinds of dishes in an instant. You might also want to add in some lemon and garlic as well.
22. Basil vinegar.
Just as with the oil, basil is going to work well with vinegar as long as you allow it to sit there and allow those flavors to seep out of the basil and mix with the vinegar. For this, you should look at using something quite strong such as cardinal basil or red rubin as either are perfect and are able to provide you with a fantastic dressing.
23. Basil – Aioli dipping sauce.
For this, add basil, garlic, lemon juice, some salt, and egg yokes into a food processor and blend it together. The basil should be quite strong as it has to compete with a number of contrasting flavors in the aioli so something mellow is just not going to cut it.
24. Basil vinaigrette
A basil vinaigrette can be the perfect addition to a number of dishes but especially salads. Consider adding some olive oil, basil, garlic, and black pepper and then layer it over your salad to give it a bit of an extra kick.
25. Basil puree.
Basil puree is going to be a fantastic thing for a range of dishes and all you have to do is to blend basil, some oil and salt in a blender. You can then add it to soups and a whole host of other things and of course the strength and flavor in the basil is going to depend on the variety that you have used in the recipe.
26. Edamame basil hummus.
Now, this is going to be something slightly different, but making your own edamame basil hummus is a lot easier than you think. Get some edamame beans, some garlic, oil, lemon juice, salt, and of course some basil and blend them together. It gives you a lovely alternative to the usual chickpea hummus and is amazing on baked potato.
So, there you have it, 26 different ideas or types of dishes where you can use basil in the list of ingredients in order to just change things up a bit and really bring out some brand new flavors. It really is up to you to experiment as much as possible but this list has shown you the kind of things that you can tackle if you really do put your mind to it.