I planted a couple of little basil leaves in a pot last summer, and with my help, this medium-sized plant managed to survive, if not quite thrive, indoors during the winter. Upon being moved outdoors and into a nice, large planter, the basil plant proceeded to explode to a size I never expected.
Suddenly I had an unprecedented basil surplus, and I needed to use some of it up, fast. I mean, at first I’d found the plant’s severe leaning to be kind of cute, but it was starting to get out of control. Next thing I knew, the neighborhood stay cats would be using it as a scratching post. I began wracking my brain for some great uses for basil.
The first idea is, of course, pesto. And I’ve made a few batches of it already, trust me. Ailanthus did a post about pesto, and I’ll just let you work off her recipe, which I give a hearty endorsement. Mainly because it’s nearly identical to my mommy’s. (I will give one warning though: if, like me, you tend to put in more garlic than a recipe calls for, beware that raw garlic is a lot spicier than cooked garlic.)
In addition to pesto, there’s the natural choice to make a nice caprese salad. Or throw the odd basil leaf or two into various sauces and dishes. But this was serious. I had a goddamn basil tree in my backyard that was going to collapse under its own weight.
Then I found something magical on the internets: basil butter. This recipe, found on allrecipes.com, is beautiful in its simplicity. While you can (and perhaps should) freeze some for later use, you should also be sure to enjoy some while it’s fresh. And it turns out exactly the way you’d expect: buttery, basil-y, delicious. I’m almost through my first batch of it already and I don’t plan on slowing down. And no, this crap isn’t good for you, but who cares?
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 pound butter, softened
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
In a food processor, chop basil. Add butter, lemon juice and pepper and garlic salt; blend until smooth. Drop by half-tablespoons onto a baking sheet; freeze. Remove from baking sheet and store in freezer bags. Use to flavor chicken, fish or vegetables.
Photo Courtesy of the author