Basil Beyond Pesto: 5 Creative Recipes to Make with Basil Leaves



What to make with basil besides pesto? If you're a fan of Italian food, then you've probably used this herb to make some delicious pesto sauce. However, there's more to basil than just being an ingredient for pesto. This versatile herb can be used in various dishes and drinks that will surely elevate your meals.

Basil has a rich history and is widely used in different cuisines around the world. Its unique flavor profile makes it a popular choice among chefs and home cooks alike. In this article, we'll explore some creative ways to use basil other than making the classic pesto sauce.

From salads to cocktails, we'll show you how this aromatic herb can add depth and complexity to any dish or drink that it's added into. So if you're ready to take your cooking skills up a notch by incorporating new flavors into your dishes using basil, read on!

What to Make with Basil Besides Pesto: Exploring the Versatility of This Popular Herb

If you love basil but are tired of making pesto every time, don't worry! There are plenty of other delicious dishes that you can make with this aromatic herb. From soups and salads to main courses and drinks, there are endless possibilities when it comes to cooking with basil. In this article, we'll explore some creative ways to use basil in your cooking.

Benefits of Cooking with Basil

Before we dive into different recipes using basil, let's talk about the benefits of this popular herb. Besides its delicious taste and aroma, basil is also packed full of nutrients that have numerous health benefits. Here are some reasons why adding more fresh herbs like basil to your diet is a good idea:

  • Basil contains antioxidants such as vitamin C and flavonoids that help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties due to its high concentration of eugenol which may be helpful in reducing inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis.
  • The essential oils present in basil help improve digestion by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes.
  • According to research studies carried out on animals; consumption or topical application reduces stress levels.

Recipes Using Fresh Basil Leaves

Now let's get into some great recipes that use fresh leaves as one alternative besides pesto:

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

This simple Italian-inspired dish is perfect for summer entertaining or as an appetizer before dinner.


  • 1 loaf crusty bread
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 medium tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Olive oil (for drizzling)


  1. Preheat oven broiler on high heat setting.
  2. Cut bread into slices about half-inch thick each; rub garlic onto one side lightly while still warm. Place on baking sheet and toast under the broiler until golden brown.
  3. Mix tomatoes, basil, salt and olive oil together in a bowl.
  4. Spoon tomato mixture onto toasted bread slices.
  5. Serve immediately.

Basil Pesto Pasta Salad

This summer staple is perfect for outdoor barbecues or as a side dish to any meal.


  • 1 pound pasta (penne or bowtie)
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (pitted & chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions; drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked pasta then toss in remaining ingredients until well combined.
    3.Season with salt & pepper before serving.

Caprese Salad

This is an easy recipe that requires only few ingredients yet packs so much flavor.


  • Fresh mozzarella cheese sliced thinly
  • Large ripe roma tomatoes sliced in thick rounds
  • Freshly picked basil leaves

Dressing Ingredients:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
    – Balsamic vinegar
    – Salt & freshly cracked black pepper


To make the dressing,
In a small jar/container combine all of the dressing ingredients except for black pepper seasoning; close container tightly then shake vigorously until emulsified;
Taste test adjust seasoning if necessary by adding more salt or vinegar.

Assemble salad,
Alternate slices of mozzarella cheese along with thick tomato slices on top of each other forming stacks ;
Place one fresh basil leaf between them ;
Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over;


Basil may be most commonly associated with pesto but there are plenty of other ways you can use this versatile herb! Whether you're making bruschetta, caprese salad, or pesto pasta salad, basil is a delicious and healthy addition to any dish. The next time you're at the grocery store, be sure to pick up some fresh basil leaves and try out one of these tasty recipes!


What are some other recipes that use basil besides pesto?

Basil is a versatile herb that can be used to bring flavor and aroma to many dishes. Apart from pesto, you can use basil in several recipes such as tomato-basil soup, Caprese salad, grilled or roasted vegetables with basil dressing, and baked goods such as lemon-basil muffins or biscuits.

To make the tomato-basil soup: In a pot over medium heat combine 2 cans of pureed tomatoes with minced garlic (2-3 cloves), chicken broth (1 cup), chopped fresh basil (1/4 cup) and salt to taste. Let it simmer for at least 10 minutes until the flavors meld together. Serve hot garnished with more fresh chopped basil leaves.

In making Caprese Salad: Thinly slice fresh mozzarella cheese along with ripe red tomatoes then top them off on a plate alternating each cheese slice between slices of tomato. Sprinkle some finely chopped fresh Basil on top followed by drizzling extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar before serving immediately.

Grilled vegetables with Basil dressing: Grill sliced zucchini squash along diced eggplants & bell peppers then blend together finely any leftover grilled veggies in food processor along mixed preferred amount of olive oil & basalmic vinegar along salt pepper for an easy diy vinaigrette which could be stored inside refrigerator up-to-one week.

Lemon-Basil Muffins/Biscuits recipe includes adding about 1 tablespoon freshly minced Basil leaves into batter ingredients when preparing dough mixture before baking until your desired brownness level achieved

Can I replace Pesto sauce fully or partially in any dish?

Yes! You may substitute Pesto sauce entirely or partly for most recipes calling for herbs/spices/sauces because its distinctive texture-taste makes it stand out while simultaneously pairing well alongside various other meals like pasta dishes pizzas sandwiches etc.. However; keep in mind certain preparations/dishes may require adjustments in amount of Pesto sauce used to avoid overpowering or unbalanced flavors.

One way to make a quick switch is by combining herbs like cilantro, mint, parsley with oil and nuts which are blended together into a paste-like consistency. You can also add garlic and cheese if desired. This mixture can be used as seasoning for roasted vegetables, grilled meats or fish.

How do I store Basil after picking?

To keep fresh cut basil leaves from wilting too quickly: Rinse off your just-picked basil gently using cool water then pat dry the excess moisture with clean towel before wrapping its stems lightly into damp paper towels & sealed inside zip-lock plastic bags (avoiding squeezing any air out) before storing inside fridge's crisper drawer ideally for up-to-5 days!

Alternatively another method involves keeping freshly harvested sprigs in an empty jar filled with about 1 inch of water at room temperature away from direct sunlight until needed again within three days maximum (no refrigeration necessary). Gently trimming the ends occasionally will help maintain freshness well than otherwise left untouched over longer periods of time.

Can I grow Basil indoors?

Yes! Especially considering how easy it is to grow basil indoors provided you have adequate lighting and soil conditions; being sure not overwater nor underwater these plants once started would result in healthy growth due their resilience towards growing both hydroponically/soil-based options. Simply purchase some seedlings online/local nurseries planting them according directions given there measuring containers/pots accordingly making use organic fertilizers like compost tea every 4-6 weeks thereafter added while watering keeping soil moist enough but never staying soaked more than few minutes daily!

What other herb/spice pairs well alongside Basil?

Basil pairs well alongside many other herbs such as rosemary thyme oregano sage dill parsley mint coriander marjoram tarragon chervil along spices such as cumin fennel seeds chili flakes paprika turmeric garlic powder onion powder etc. The variations in flavor profiles from these herbs/spices lend themselves well to many different recipes when combining two or more together for an overall enjoyable dish that’s sure to impress anyone tasting it!

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