7 Ways to Take Fresh Basil Beyond Pesto

Listen, we’re not saying you and pesto need to go on a break. In fact, with basil being in season and all, now is a better time than any for you to be making your own Basil Pesto. But obliterating summertime basil in the blender isn’t the only way for you to put it to use. Sidestep the sauce for once with our favorite non-pesto ways to use up a fresh bunch of basil.

Slide basil onto a skewer for a party-ready app.

Spear the leafy herb with tomato and watermelon for a refreshing, summery bite that takes kebabs beyond their meaty domain. Giada De Laurentiis finishes her Tomato, Watermelon and Basil Skewers with a drizzle of balsamic syrup and olive oil, plus a sprinkle of coarse salt.

Bring basil into breakfast.

Add a scattering of fresh chopped basil to your next frittata to bring an herbaceous complexity to the whisk-and-bake breakfast dish. Ina Garten’s Potato Basil Frittata pairs tender potatoes with two cheeses: ricotta and Gruyere.

Embrace basil’s sweeter side.

You’re most likely to find basil leaves on a slice of pizza, thrown into pasta or in a bite of a tomato-mozzarella sandwich, but savory isn’t the only way. In fact, basil’s innately sweet flavor can also lend a gorgeous aromatic quality to desserts. For instance, muddle fresh basil leaves into sugar syrup to create the base for this adults-only Lemon-Basil Granita.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Punch potatoes up with basil.

A good potato side — whether roasted, fried or mashed — is basically a blank slate for whatever flavor profile you want it to take on. Go for freshness by matching tender new potato halves with chopped fresh basil leaves and a little lemon zest for Giada’s Lemon-Basil Potatoes, which take just over 20 minutes to hit the table.


Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

Dress meat up with basil.

Rub a spatchcocked chicken with homemade basil butter, made simply by pureeing two cups of basil with butter, garlic and lemon zest. The souped-up butter ensures the Roast Basil Chicken leaves the oven browned, crispy and flavorful.


Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Brighten up veggie sides with basil.

A side of sauteed veggies could be made simply with garlic, olive oil and a little salt, but Food Network Kitchen’s 20-minute Sauteed Asparagus with Olives and Basil calls for basil to bring a jolt of extra freshness.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Mix basil infusions into drinks.

Use one bunch of basil to make a sweet basil simple syrup that you can stir into your favorite cocktails. Giada mixes hers into her fan-favorite sparkling Italian Lemonade.

Check out more basil recipes from our friends of #SummerSoiree:

In Jennie’s Kitchen: Peach & Basil Panzanella

The Lemon Bowl: Thai Basil Shrimp

Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Basil Seeds Limeade

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