Basil Recipes: Creative Ways to Play with Herbs

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sugared basil

These basil recipes can be a kid-friendly activity (crafty candied basil), a way to wow your pals with your culinary prowess (glossy fried basil garnish), or simply used to incorporate more herbs into your cooking (basil oil and basil sugar).

In other words, these recipes are great for both practicality and fun. Use these methods to preserve every last leaf and stem too. Here are a few unexpected ways to use  our favorite herb:

Candied Basil

Ingredients

  • Basil leaves
  • Egg white
  • Sugar, fine granulated
  1. Clean and dry basil (no need if greenhouse grown, just make sure it’s completely dry).
  2. Whisk egg whites with a splash of water until frothy.
  3. Lightly brush each leaf with egg whites (the more egg white, the thicker the end product will be).
  4. Dip basil leaves in sugar for a light even coat, or sprinkle for more control.
  5. Place on wire rack, or a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Dry completely (the less humidity the better), then store in airtight container.

Fried Basil

Ingredients

  • Basil leaves, completely dry
  • Neutral oil, such as canola, veg or grapeseed

Method 1: Microwave (kid friendly, inspired by Cooks Illustrated)

  1. Prepare plate

    • Wrap a microwave safe plate tightly with plastic wrap. Important: make sure to use heat-safe, food grade plastic wrap! Otherwise, the plastic will melt. If you don’t have this, you can use the traditional deep fry method, below.
    • (Optional) Cut 2 circular sheets of parchment paper (the same diameter of the plate or smaller). Place one sheet on the plate, set the other aside for later.
  2. Prep the basil
    • Make sure basil leaves are completely dry
    • Dip a basil leaf in oil to coat and let the extra drip off.
    • Lay flat on parchment paper.
    • Repeat, leaving some room between each basil leaf until you run out of room on the plate.
  3. Prepare plate for microwave
    • If you opted to use parchment, layer the other parchment sheet over the leaves.
    • Pat basil leaves flat.
    • Wrap another layer of plastic wrap, tight, to keep flat.
    • Poke a few holes for ventilation.
  4. Cook

    • Microwave for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent and crisp.
    • Remove plastic and parchment, blot excess oil.
  5. Use and enjoy as a garnish!

Method 2: Deep fry

 

  1. Prepare oil
    • Fill wok, saucepan or deep fryer with oil.
    • Heat oil to 375 degrees.
  2. Fry basil
    • Prepare a plate with a sheet of plastic towel.
    • Make sure basil is completely dry to avoid oil splatters.
    • Use tongs or chopsticks to gently dip basil leaf in oil (let it sit for around 10 seconds or until translucent and crisp).
    • Remove from oil and place on paper towel to absorb oil.
    • Repeat with all leaves.
  3. Save the oil
    • You have also coincidentally made herbaceous, infused oil!
    • Use for roasting, salad dressing, bread dipping and so much more.

Basil Oil

Ingredients

  • Basil, leaves and stem
  • Mild olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • Salt
  • Use about ½ cup of oil per cup of herbs (don’t stress over this)
  1. Blanch the greens
    • Boil a pot of water with some salt.
    • Make an ice bath and set aside.
    • Add in herbs for 10-15 seconds.
    • Remove and dunk in ice bath.
  2. Combine oil and herbs
    • Remove from ice bath and squeeze out as much water as you can 
    • Add herbs to blender, pour in oil and blend until all combined. The oil will be cloudy, you can let it sit and settle for 15-30 minutes.

  3. Strain and store
    • Strain the oil using a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, coffee filter, etc. Be patient and let it strain on its own.
    • Store oil in airtight container in the fridge. 

*This is just one way to make vibrant green herb oil! You can also save the oil if you make the fried basil leaves, recipe above.

Basil Sugar

Ingredients

  • Basil leaves
  • Sugar, granulated
  1. Combine basil to sugar ration of 1:2 in a food processor.
  2. Pulse until completely combined, and green in color.
  3. How to use basil sugar: 

Basil Simple Syrup

Ingredients

  • Basil, leaves and stem
  • Sugar
  1. Use 1:1:1 basil, sugar and water ratio (by volume). 1:1 is a classic simple syrup, but feel free to tweak the amount of basil to your taste.

  2. Combine ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, until all sugar is melted.
  3. Then lower heat and simmer for 1 min.
  4. Remove from heat and leave basil in to steep, 15-30 min.
  5. Remove basil leaves.

Basil-Infused Water

No recipe needed here!

  1. Grab some water (still or sparkling), add ice, basil leaves and whatever fruit you have available.
  2. (Optional) Muddle the herbs and fruits, if you’re feeling fancy.
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