It's peak basil season! Basil is one of the most loved, useful, and aromatic herbs of the garden, and it has so many great uses. If you have more basil than you can use, then you won’t for long after these creative uses and ideas. Or if you’re seeing basil by the bags at your local farmers’ market but you’re not sure how you would use it all, then don’t think twice. Now you’ll have plenty of ideas. You might even want to grab two bags!
1. Make your own summer drink.
You can easily whip up a basil lemon water or basil cucumber water if you want to recreate the same amazing water you find at the spa. Or if you want to do a lemonade or limeade, that can be done, too. Bake the Night Away, an Instagrammer from Brooklyn used basil, mint, lime juice, and simple syrup to make a gorgeous and tasty limeade. You could also do something similar with your favorite lemonade recipe.
2. Create your own craft cocktail.
Speaking of summer drinks, basil is also good in cocktails. Have you had a moscow mule with basil? It’s delicious! How about a margarita with fresh lime and basil? So, so good. Try adding it to your favorite drink this summer just to try it out. Even uses it as a garnish to your favorite drink adds wonderful aroma.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
3. Make pesto for now and later.
There are so many great pesto recipes out there, but they all include basil as a main ingredient. Most will also call for arugula, pine nuts, and olive oil. Making pesto is a great way to use a lot of basil at once. Then use it now in your favorite dishes or freeze the pesto in plastic ice cube trays. By doing this, you can just pop in a cube in your favorite dish any time of the year for great flavor.
4. Make basil pizza.
Let basil be the star of the show with your pizza. You can use a pesto base instead of marinara sauce as one option. Another idea is to do a caprese salad but as a pizza instead. No matter what you choose to do, basil is a very good idea on any pizza you make this summer.
5. Add basil to all your salads.
It’s salad season, and there are so many great recipes for you to try out. Basil makes a great complement in just about any salad. Here’s are some awesome summer salad recipes, including a cucumber basil and watermelon fruit salad. Here’s another great option from Brooklyn Vegetarian on Instagram, who put together an amazing tomato, cheddar, and basil salad. Just remember that a little can go a long way so start out with just a few leaves, and as needed.
(Photo Credit: SmallsWorldPics)
6. Test it out in different pasta dishes.
You might put basil in spaghetti or a pesto dish, but it’s great with almost all pasta. Try adding a few leaves to your favorite dish, and notice how it adds great flavor. Here’s a pesto chicken recipe to try (with added basil) that uses zucchini noodles. Here’s another great summer pasta dish from SmallsWorldPics on Instagram that is gluten-free.
7. Use it to flavor any summer veggie.
Fresh veggies or those on the grill are such a staple in summer, and the herbs from your garden can definitely help kick up the flavor. Try this corn on the cob basil pesto recipe, and use the same mixture on any of your other summer veggies, too.
8. Eat it with tomatoes... so many tomatoes.
There’s a reason caprese salad is one of the easiest, most delicious salads of summer. Yes, it’s simple, featuring tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, but it’s incredibly good. Even the popular appetizer of basil, cherry tomato, and mozzarella on a stick is a crowd pleaser. You don’t even have to go to the trouble of making it pretty. Just chop everything up together and it it raw and fresh. It’s oh-so good.
(Photo Credit: Brooklyn Vegetarian)
9. Use basil in your favorite dips.
Bruschetta is probably the most popular way to use basil, but there are many other tips you can season with basil. Taco dip, beer dip, and even a buffalo chicken dip will all gain great flavor with a little bit of fresh basil.
10. Create your own essential oils.
There are so many great benefits to basil in essential oils. So why not create your own essential oils this summer using garden-fresh ingredients? All you need is a crockpot to get started on making your own DIY oils; the basics of how to do it are pretty simple. You can do this with pretty much any herb in your garden or at the farmers’ market.
11. Make a basil bath bomb or bath product.
Like the essential oils, you can also make your own garden-fresh soap, bath bombs, or sugar scrub. You can easily find a lot of great recipes out there, and basil can be a good ingredient to try in any of them. You can use essential oils to make bath bombs or dry your basil first. (Here are some basics to get you started.)
12. Make a dressing out of it.
This is a genius idea. Of course basil would be an amazing flavoring in dressing. One of the favorite recipes we’ve found is from the Instagramming foodies The Clean Eating Couple. They have a lemon basil vinaigrette that is perfect for salads, to top chicken, or even pasta salad. They have the full basil dressing recipe here.
13. Add a little bit of basil to your ice cream.
Basil and ice cream? Yes! If you’ve been to an gourmet ice cream shops these days, you’ll likely see at least one flavor on the menu with basil in it. Here’s a basil peach ice cream, but it’s also good to try with strawberry, ice cream, blueberry, or any other fruit.
This post was written by Stacy Tornio, the author of The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book and the mom of two adventurous kids. Together, they like planning vacations centered around the national parks.