Fresh Heirloom Basil Recipes

Here are a couple of recipes that use fresh herbs- that you should soon have growing in your garden!

The first is the classic Basil Pesto. Make extra, freeze in small amounts for use later. We just finished using the last batch in a dinner that tasted like the height of summer. The second is a basic, classic tomato based pasta sauce that is not only easy to make, but lends itself to endless variations using what is fresh and on hand at the time.

You can easily have a fresh, incredibly tasty dinner on the table in 30 minutes with either of these recipes!

Basil Pesto Sauce

2 Cups fresh basil leaves, washed

3 cloves fresh garlic, mild flavored

2 Tbsp pine nuts or walnuts

1/2 Cup olive oil

Salt to taste

1/2 Cup fresh grated aged Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Makes about 1 cup.

Place all ingredients except grated cheese in food processor and puree until smooth, usually about 1-2 minutes. Add in grated cheese, pulse till mixed well.

Add to soups for a bright and fresh flavor, use as a sandwich spread or add to hot freshly cooked pasta for heavenly pesto pasta.

As basil production increases, make large batches to freeze into small single serving containers for use in the winter when you want a taste of summer. Most people think of pine nuts as the only nut to use, but experiment with other nuts including almonds and sunflower seeds for different flavor combinations. Use different basils as well, for the different flavors that they will bring.

Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

1 Medium red onion, minced

1/2 Cup dry white wine

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

3 Medium fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar

1 Tsp sugar

1/2 Tsp salt

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Cup fresh basil, chopped

Slow cook onion in wine over low heat in heavy bottomed sauce pan for 10-15 minutes, until liquid is reduced to a few tablespoons.

Add pepper flakes, tomatoes, olive oil, sugar, salt, Balsamic vinegar, and tomato paste. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened.

Add basil, then remove from heat. Let sit for a couple of minutes to infuse basil flavor into sauce, then serve over fresh hot pasta.

Makes about 3 cups. Can be easily frozen for a quick, healthy and tasty dinner.

You can easily add fresh carrot thinly sliced, fresh oregano, different types of basil, fresh fennel sliced thinly, or whatever sounds good at the time. Experiment with different flavor combinations, use what is fresh and available at the time for new and great tastes.

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5 Responses to Fresh Heirloom Basil Recipes

  1. Sylvana April 5, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    I love pesto. I always use pine nuts in mine, but I have had it with walnuts as well. I like to go really chunky with it, spread in crusty bread, and toast in the oven with even a little sprinkle of a good Italian cheese on top. Yummy!

  2. Maryruth Prose July 9, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    I have been making pesto for years; it is my husband’s very favorite thing our of the garden. I basically use your recipe, making a big batch. I add fresh jalapenos to most of my pesto. I would put 6 to 8 in the above recipe, depending on the heat. It makes a good change of pace, and is abslutely terrific as the sauce base for pizza – especially with mozzarella slices and fresh tomatoes from the garden. WOW!

    • Stephen August 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

      Jalapeños in the pesto- now that is an intriguing idea! I love chiles, so this is definitely worth trying. Thanks for the idea…

  3. Peggy July 9, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    We just love Pesto made with pine nuts, however, the recent beetle kill problems in Colorado and elsewhere have priced the pine nuts out of site! I would be interested in pine nuts for less than $30.00+ dollars for 4.5 Cups! We make and freeze our pesto in ice cube trays. Once the pesto is frozen I transfer the cubes to a “zip-shut” bag. When I am making Spaghetti sauce in the winter, I just toss in a couple cubes to give it that wonderful flavor. We’ve found multiple uses for this yummy, healthful treat which lasts us most of the winter.

    • Stephen August 9, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

      You are right about the price of pine nuts, plus most of them are from China on the market these days. We’ve made Pesto with walnuts, sunflower seeds and several other nuts, and they all are delicious in different ways, from the different flavors that the nuts give.

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