What to do with all this basil? Fresh Basil Recipes

by Pamela

what to do with basil, fresh basil recipes, basil oil recipe, basil sauce recipe, anchovy recipe

Time for a little confession….I’m an herb-a-holic, and no not that kind.  Yes, I do live in California (home of legalized medicinal marijuana aka herb) but I’m talking about H-E-R-B-S.  The same type of plants that go by the name herbs in any state or country of this planet and by anyone who cooks, legitimate herbs.

Every Spring, when I go to the nursery to find the plants to fill my garden, I go a little crazy when I get to the herb section.  This year was no exception.  I’ve got dill, tarragon, spearmint, peppermint, lemon thyme, oregano, epazote, parsley, shiso, chives and basil…lots of basil.  In fact, I’ve got regular basil, Thai basil and lemon basil.  Basil is the one herb I just can’t decide on which type to get, they’re all so good and I use them in everything.  So now, that it’s the middle of summer, I’ve got a bit of problem: I’ve got too much damn basil!  What am I gonna do with all of this basil?  A person can only eat so much pesto – right?

So I thought today, I would pass along to you some of the things that you can do with this summer delicacy.  I promise you that these fresh basil recipes are easy and versatile.  Plus, there’s a little something you can do with one of them that will let you continue to enjoy fresh basil recipes all the way into the dead of winter.  How cool is that?  As Mylie Cyrus would say: “pretty cool.”

Basil-Anchovy-Recipe Basil Anchovy Sauce

The first, of the fresh basil recipes, is a basil sauce.  It’s not really quite that simple, it’s actually a basil anchovy recipe.  Quit scrunching up your nose (you know that’s one of the ways you get those ugly wrinkles in your forehead that causes you to have to get Botox injections right?).  So think of this recipe as a way to keep yourself healthy and youthful looking and not have to get those painful and expensive Botox injections – not that I would know anything about that.  ( I get that that last statement is a stretch, but just go with it ok?)

This basil sauce recipe/anchovy recipe is really versatile.  You can use this sauce for a quick and easy pasta topping or smear it on some crostini with a bit of goat cheese and you’ve got yourself a pretty appetizer full of umami goodness.  You can also make this basil anchovy recipe as thick or as thin as you would like it to be.  Which means that you could also spoon it into a pretty bowl, surrounded by a bunch of vegetables and use it as a crudité dip (which is a really fancy term for a veggie platter dip).

Basil-Oil-Recipe Fresh-Basil-Oil

The second, of the fresh basil recipes, is a basil oil recipe.  You’ve probably seen basil oil for sale at a lot of the fancy grocery stores or specialty markets and never thought that you could make it yourself.  Guess what?  You can.  It only takes 2 ingredients: fresh basil and a good olive oil and a little bit of time – but your efforts will be well rewarded.  The emerald green elixer that comes from your efforts will taste even better than the most expensive specialty olive oil.

This simple basil oil recipe can be used to dress salads, make ice cream (yes, ice cream), cook with, swirl into soups (for a little added flavor) or add at the end of your favorite chicken recipe to give it a slightly different flavor than usual.

The third, of the fresh basil recipes, isn’t really a recipe at all…it’s more of a by-product of the basil oil recipe.  When you strain the olive oil and basil,  you’ll get quite a bit of the finely chopped basil mixed with some of the olive oil – it’s kind of like a really boring version of pesto.  But there’s no sense in throwing this out…why not freeze it?

By freezing the leftover basil and olive oil, you’ll have a pesto base, a finishing touch to add to soups or a great starter for a sauce to add to your dinner.  I froze mine into 1 piece because I know that I’ll end up using it to make a small batch of pesto later, but you could also freeze it in an ice cube tray (in 1 tablespoon cubes) or into some smaller container to get even tinier cubes.  Whatever you do, don’t throw this stuff out…it’s green gold for your recipes this winter.

Not enough basil recipes for you? Find even more fresh basil recipes at this link. Or you can check out another post for fresh basil recipes at this link (this one’s got a cool recipe for basil pasta and basil salad dressing).

Here’s a fun basil olive oil recipe for something unusual, but delicious to use that basil olive oil for.

Or maybe you want a basil cocktail…how about a basil gin smash or a strawberry basil gimlet.

Relationship Advice

The real stress of life is thinking that everything has to mean something.

Yes, really, everything.  The bagger at the checkout counter asks if you need help to your car, and you are now convinced that you must look as horribly out of shape as you feel.  When you get that ticket, even though you unbuttoned your blouse and flashed your pearly whites, you clearly are so ugly that the officer isn’t ticketing you for speeding, he’s writing that ticket to punish you for being looks challenged.

While these mental mind games wreak havoc on our psyches during our everyday lives, it’s our relationships that seem to be like crack for our self-denigrating brains.  It starts on our first date: if he doesn’t call back within the first 24 hours it’s because I’m not worthy of another human beings’ attention and am destined to spend the rest of my years with a pack of cats that will, no doubt, eat my remains as a means to stay alive because I won’t even have friends to check in on me.  Once he calls back, you’re together for a seemingly infinite number of years and he finally proposes, then the real mental turpitude kicks in.  Including the moment of the proposal: my ring isn’t the size of a dinner plate, my friends are going to think I’m marrying a broke ass loser.

We of course know that we’re being ridiculous, but something in the deep recesses of our little pea brains keeps bringing all of this bs to the surface.  Somehow it convinces us that the size of our jeans, the length of time we wait at the door of the club and the color of the soles of our high heels is what determines our Earthly worth and desirability.  We both know that’s not true, but try telling yourself that when that bottle of wine and bag of tortilla chips has found itself a home on your ass and now you have to wear your “fat” jeans and hit the gym for the next 14 days in a row.

Assigning meaning to all of life’s, well, life is draining and ultimately leads to nothing but disappointment.  Getting carded at the grocery store checkout makes you feel great, for about 5 minutes, but you and I know that they have to card everyone now and fitting into those size 2 J Brand Jeans still doesn’t mean you look like Kate Middleton.  All it means is that you you’ve succeeded in eating less iceberg lettuce than your body can burn off and that your offerings to the God’s of cellulite might be paying off.  But really, iceberg lettuce? You do realize they make these things called Spanx now right? Basil Recipes - What to do with all this basil


Recipe: Basil Anchovy Sauce


  • 3 Cloves of Garlic (roughly chopped)
  • 6 Anchovy Filets
  • 1/4 Cup Toasted Walnuts
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Capers (drained)
  • 2 Tablespoons Breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 Cups Basil Leaves (washed and dried)
  • 1/2 Cup Italian Parsley Leaves (washed and dried)
  • 2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Anchovy Oil (from jar of anchovies)
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 Cup Olive Oil


  1. Add all ingredients, except olive oil, to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Begin to process the ingredients and slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
  3. Continue adding olive oil until the desired consistency is reached.

Quick notes

This recipe makes a little more than 1 cup of sauce.


I used lemon basil when I made this, so there was a nice bit of lemon flavor. If you use regular basil and would like a hint of lemon, just add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the mixture (as much or as little as you like).

Preparation time:  15 Minutes

Cooking time:  0 Minutes

Diet type: 

Number of servings (yield): 8

Culinary tradition: USA (General)

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)



Recipe: Basil Olive Oil


  • 2 Cups Basil Leaves (washed and dried)
  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  1. Fill a medium size bowl with ice and water and set aside. (You will be putting the blanched basil leaves into this.)
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the basil leaves and leave them in the water for 5 seconds.
  4. Remove the basil from the boiling water and put it immediately into the ice water.
  5. Squeeze the water from the basil leaves and dry them a bit more with a towel. Separate the leaves a bit and toss them into a blender. (Continue doing this until all of the basil is in the blender.)
  6. Pour the olive oil into the blender.
  7. Turn on the blender and puree the basil until there are no more pieces showing in the mixture (about 1 minute).
  8. Pour the mixture through a sieve. You will probably need to gently run a spatula back and forth over the mixture to help it strain. (Scoop the basil solids into another container.)
  9. Rinse the sieve and then line it with a double layer of cheese cloth. (Thoroughly wet the cheese cloth, and wring it out, before lining the sieve. This keeps the cheese cloth from absorbing all of the delicious oil.)
  10. Strain the oil this way two more times. The last time you strain the oil, use 4 layers of cheese cloth.
  11. Pour the oil into a sealable jar and refrigerate.

Quick notes

This makes 1/2 cup of basil oil. I make this in small batches because it needs to be refrigerated and used within 5 days. The solids that you scraped during the first filtering can be put into a container and frozen for later use.

Preparation time:  15 Minutes

Cooking time:  5 Seconds

Diet type: Vegan

Number of servings (yield): 8

Culinary tradition: USA (General)

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)


Welcome to My Man's Belly! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the site or if there's a recipe you'd like to see here. Have a great day.


Steph Eastwood July 30, 2015 at 10:13 pm

Thanks for the basil anchovy pesto recipe. I think it’s even better than regular style. I used Brazil nuts and added a blop of plain, homemade yogurt and it stayed green and fresh-tasting for over 1 1/2 weeks in the fridge.

Pamela July 31, 2015 at 8:38 am

Hi Steph, Nice sub with the Brazil nuts (such an underrated nut). I’m so glad to hear you liked the recipe!

Crystal October 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm

What do you think vegan means? Please fix the labeling on your recipes.

Pamela October 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Yes Crystal I do know that anchovy’s are fish and not vegan. But the basil olive oil is and they both come up that way in the old recipe system I was using. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Mykell July 11, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Recipe that uses anchovies = vegan
Recipe that is clearly vegan = vegetarian

Pamela July 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Mykell, Yes, I know that that recipe is not vegetarian…but the other recipes in the post are.

Bill September 1, 2012 at 10:53 am

Basil Olive Oil

When my basil plants did surge,

I bellowed “Anathema”!

Then as fate would have it

I met this chic named Pamela.

The Google search began,

“What to do with all this basil”?

And low and behold and to my delight,

Mymansbelly a recipe that did dazzle.

Over pasta, on salads,

Basil olive oil is what I’m sayin’

Girl knows her shit

Is all I’m conveyin’.

Fine! I’m no Clooney

Guess I don’t stand a chance.

My precious basil olive oil

I’m left to romance…………

I enjoyed your website very much. Keep up the great work Pamela!


sippy May 31, 2012 at 9:35 am

I found your basil anchovy recipe while googling. I love anchovies and basil so I can’t wait to make it. Is that something that needs to be used immediately? If not could I store at room temperature or would it have to be refrigerated?

thanks so much!

Pamela May 31, 2012 at 10:15 am


This anchovy basil recipe is kind of like a pesto…so once you make it up, store it in the refrigerator. You don’t need to use it immediately and it should keep for at least 2 weeks in a well sealed container.


Erin August 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Can’t wait to try – but not vegan! Your “diet type” section says vegan, but it stars those tasty little anchovy fish XD

Leslie August 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I like to feeze pesto – any reason I couldn’t freeze the basil anchovy sauce? I assume a little goes a long way, like pesto?

Pamela August 21, 2011 at 8:36 pm

You could definitely freeze the anchovy sauce. I hope you enjoy it.

Lois Downy July 27, 2011 at 9:08 am

I love basil and am always looking for ways to preserve it for use throughout the year. The basil olive oil is fabulous. I just wanted to point out that you labeled the basil anchovy sauce as vegan – obviously an oversight since vegans don’t eat anchovies. I’ve been looking for a recipe for basil liqueur. Do you have one or know where to find one?

Pamela July 27, 2011 at 11:51 am

I don’t have a recipe for the basil liqueur, but it seems to be made the same way as limoncello. So basically would be basil leaves in grain alcohol for a couple of weeks then combined with simple syrup. The vegetarian label on the post is associated with the basil olive oil, thanks for pointing that out. Let me know how your liqueur comes out.

Lois Downy July 27, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I make fantastic (if I do say so myself) limoncello all the time, so I know the process well. I have tried it with basil before, but it always turns brown during the steeping period. I was wondering if maybe I should blanch the leaves first, like you do with the basil oil. I’ll try a couple different things and let you know how it goes.

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks July 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

The last time I fit in size 2 jeans I was in the 6th grade. That ain’t happening again and I wouldn’t want it to. No bootie.

Re the recipe – love basil, parsley, anchovies and capers. They are a great combo.

Matthew Kadey July 20, 2011 at 10:21 am

That basil sauce is reason enough to fire up a pot of pasta.

jen July 19, 2011 at 8:58 am

That looks deliciouss!! I love basil sauces and dips. yummmm.

Have a Fabulous day!

Maureen July 18, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I can’t imagine not having a pot of basil outside the kitchen door all the time. Thankfully it never gets too cold here for basil or the other herbs.

Okay, Nancy got me with basil being an aphrodisiac. I think I’ll just make a bowl of basil for dessert and see if the old fella notices. 🙂

Nancy@acommunaltable July 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Lord, how I have missed reading My Man’s Belly!! At the end of “relationship advice” I saw the “print this” and thought how appropriate – I think every female definitely needs to “print this” one out – including me!! You’d think at my age I’d be past all this but sadly, not so!!
As for the basil, I am “addicted” as well -sadly my basil plants aren’t as “fertile” as yours are – working on having enough for one caprese salad – LOL!!

Heather Jacobsen July 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Yum. I love basil in every way and every form, and I’m so happy to know how to store it through the winter now!

Btw, did you know that basil is also considered an aphrodisiac? 🙂

Spanx. Yikes.

Jessica July 18, 2011 at 9:11 am

I can’t imagine how anyone else could possible integrate basil and botox into the same sentence, you are spectacular! And I love the promise of fresh basil in winter, I could live in caprese alone. And for the record, I have NEVER worked out 14 days in a row and I’m damn proud of it!! 🙂

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