Beyond the Basics of Basil

Produced by Brett Levine

Food Styling by Lily Plauché

Photography by Beth Dreiling Hontzas


Basil is a delicate herb. Sweet basil, most often used in Italian cooking, adds sweetness and subtlety to any dish, while Thai basil, with its narrow leaves, brings a hint of anise to a range of Asian dishes.

Begin with a salad that combines basil and purple basil into a fresh wonder with a subtle vinaigrette. Follow it with the Thai basil pesto pizza that brings an Asian twist to an Italian classic. Finally, for an unexpected sweet, Basil Ice Cream finishes off this herb inspired menu.

Whether sweet, Thai, or purple, basil adds its own unique flavor to any dish. Basil can be delicate, or strong and spicy. Whichever basil you prefer, this menu makes it delicious to go green and purple.


Basil Ice CreamBasil Ice Cream

Makes 4 cups


2 cups half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Pinch salt


In a medium saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender; blend 1 minute or until basil is finely chopped. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour (can be done a day ahead). Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon into a freezer safe container; freeze 2 hours or until firm.



Basil SaladPurple Basil Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Serves: 6


½ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

6 ripe tomatoes, sliced

1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

½ cup packed fresh purple basil leaves, torn


1. In a blender, place olive oil and next 4 ingredients.

2. Layer tomato slices, mozzarella slices, and torn basil leaves on a platter. Drizzle with basil vinaigrette.



Basil 3Thai Basil Pesto Pizzas

Serves: 6


2 cups Thai basil leaves

3 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts

2 teaspoons honey

1 ½ tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon vinegar

½ jalapeño pepper, minced

2 garlic cloves

3 naan

½ cup peanut sauce

6 ounces mozzarella cheese

¾ cup shredded cooked chicken
½ cup matchstick carrots

½ cup thinly sliced red bell pepper

2 green onions, sliced

Toppings: Chopped dry roasted peanuts, Thai basil leaves


1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.

2. Heat oven to 450F. Place naan on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Spread peanut sauce and pesto evenly over naan. Top each naan with mozzarella cheese and next 4 ingredients. Bake 10 minutes or until naan is crispy and cheese is melted. Top with peanuts and basil leaves.

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