Kitchen Sink Cooking: 104 Ways to use Basil


Okay, so maybe not quite 104 ways, but certainly quite a few ways.  We have had a very, very healthy crop of regular and purple basil this year, but what on earth to do with it all?

IMG_2968There are the usual suspects: garnishes for pasta or pizza; with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese; in a salad; in a sandwich or a wrap… once you have covered those, then what?  I hit up Pinterest, Google, and other sources looking for basil recipes and found a few ideas.

Basil, Mint, Lemon, and Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub
IMG_2997This was Pinterest inspired.  I needed something to take with me for a Pinterest Party with my Mom’s Group… needing to be thrifty, I decided to get a couple of jars from the Dollar Store (can’t make one for someone else and not make one for me!), use the herbs I have in the garden, the coconut oil I already had and, voilà, Pinterest Party gift and using up some basil!

I did a bit of research and discovered that when using fresh herbs for a sugar scrub, you first need to infuse the oil with the herb.  This is done by letting the herb sit in the oil for at least a week.

2 cups of coconut oil
1 cup of olive oil
1 packed cup of Purple Basil
couple of sprigs of mint
Lemon Zest or 1 Tablespoon Lemon Extract (I didn’t have any lemons, but had the extract)
3 cups of sugar (I mixed regular white sugar with coarse cane sugar to give a different texture)

1. IMG_2971Combine the coconut oil, olive oil, herbs, and lemon zest (if using) in an air tight container.  Allow to sit, in the sun (or somewhere warm) for approximately a week for the herbs to infuse in the oil.  Coconut oil solidifies when cold, the olive oil helps to free it up, but once mixed with the sugar it will be fine (even if it gets a bit cold).

2. IMG_2974Remove the basil and mint leaves (if the oil has solidified, like mine did, warm with hot water (sit the jar in the bowl).  I was concerned the leave may turn rancid overtime, so I wanted to remove them.

3. Mix in the sugar and lemon extract (if using) and store in a container with a good, thigh lid.  Decorate and give at a Pinterest Party 😉

Purple Basil Jelly
2013-07-28_13-47-05_414My Mum and I went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens for a Herb demonstration.  We saw a presentation on preserving/using herbs and found a recipe for a purple basil jelly.  Neither of us through to make a jelly with a herb, which is strange since we make mint jelly for lamb dishes.  The lady said to use the basil jelly with soft cheese (like a pepper jelly) or to make a salad dressing.  This turned out so much better than I anticipated!  The color is amazing (no food coloring used) and the taste is quite refreshing.  It is not overly sweet even though there is quite a bit of sugar in the jelly.  I think I am going to try some other options… maybe parsley? Or an Italian Seasoning jelly (basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary)? Jelly making is fun 🙂

2 cups purple basil
2 cups of boiling water
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup of lemon juice
3oz of fruit pectin

1. Soak the basil leaves in the boiling water over night (we left ours for about 24 hours) to allow the color and flavor of the basil to infuse the water.

2. Drain the basil, reserving the water.

3. Add the sugar and lemon and cook to a rolling boil (when you stir and the boil does not go away) then add the pectin as directed (mine said to add the entire packet; then, while stirring, bring to boil, boil for one minute, then remove from heat).

Tastes wonderful on pork!

Tastes wonderful on pork!

4. Pour into mason jars and boil the jars to seal them (rolling boil for 10 minutes, then leave for 12-24hrs on the side to allow to set and cool).

More ideas and info can be found here: Jim Long’s Garden This is a very similar recipe, although we didn’t add salt and I honestly don’t see why you need to.

Basil Pepper Jelly

Look at all the yummy bits.

Look at all the yummy bits.

So I’ve been bitten by the canning/jelly bug! I was walking around a fall event and saw Basil Pepper Jelly and thought, I can make that! I adapted this recipe from Canning Granny. I didn’t add the onion, just decided I didn’t want to.

A bunch of any type of basil cut into ribbons*
Variety of hot peppers, sliced and seeded (I used a jalapeno and a dried hot red)
3/4 cup of white vinegar
3 cups granulated sugar
3oz of fruit pectin

*Remove the individual leaves, layer them on top of each other, and roll them.  Then cut the rolled leaves creating ribbons (much quicker than cutting each leaf).

1. Combine vinegar, peppers, and basil. I left this to stand for 24 hours as I was using a dried pepper and wanted to rehydrate it (plus I did a double batch and didn’t have enough pectin, whoops!)

2. Put the mixture into a large pot on the stove, stir in the sugar, and bring to a rolling boil (can not be stirred down).

3. Stir in 3oz of liquid pectin and bring the mixture to a hard boil for one minute. Then remove from the heat.

4. Pour into mason jars and boil the jars to seal them (rolling boil for 10 minutes, then leave for 12-24hrs on the side to allow to set and cool).

Basil Olive Oil Flavor Cubes
I have seen this suggested on other sites (I think The Kitchn was one), but for whatever reason I have never done this!  Again, while at the Botanic Gardens, the Herb Preservation lady suggested making a frozen herb, oil “cube” for use in making pestos, as the base for soups or other dishes, or as a flavored oil option.  Hey way not, I have a Costco sized container of olive oil and crop of basil to use!

Basil leaves (any color)
Olive Oil (enough to liquify the basil, but not enough to make it soupy)

1. Put the basil into a blender and drizzle olive oil into the top while blending the basil.  Once combined and the basil is chopped into little pierces, scoop into ice cube trays and freeze.

2. Store in a ziptop bag, labeled and dated.

I used about a cup of basil since I did not know what I was doing and did not want to waste my basil! It made a handful of cubes, so more is better in this case.  You can also make combination cubes (basil and parsley? I have tons of parsley too…).

Why have I never made this before? Seems like such an easy way to use up the basil… plus a very easy dinner.


  • 2/3 cup raw almonds
  • 4 cups packed (fresh) basil leaves
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (Yeah… didn’t have so I used the pre-grated)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  1. Toast almonds in a hot pan over medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until slightly browned and fragrant.
  2. Place the almonds, basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into a blender or food processor and pulse until well blended.  With the blender still going, add in the olive oil and blend until smooth, scraping the sides down as needed.

I was very amazed at how much the taste of the almonds changed after toasting.  I should have added more olive oil as it came out a bit thick.  I served this over whole wheat pasta with garlic bread and red wine… yummy.  I have frozen two more servings of this to use at a later date.

Adapted from Almond Basil Pesto

What else have I used basil in? There is Homemade Spaghetti Sauce; Slow Cooker Chili; and basically any meal that calls for basil… I just toss it in! It is getting time to bring in the plants though and dry them.  Next Saturday the low is 38F… not only brrr, but also bad for our thin skinned foods… better freeze those tomatoes too!


About Emma BL

In the begining, there was just the two of us, then there were furbabies, and then a baby! We started trying to conceive in Nov 2010, but experienced complications and a miscarriage. Finally in April 2012 we welcomed Monkey and Bear joined in 2015. While preggo and trying to become preggo with Monkey, I often hit the web search for information about what is happening to me and I hope that through sharing my experiences, others gain some knowledge. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet. So take all my experiences and advice with a grain of salt! Now that Monkey and Bear are around and we have made the transition to parents... we try to answer the question "is there life after the baby bump?"
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