The start of summer always brings an abundance of basil, well it does at our place as I have a tendency to go a bit overboard when planting it! It is one of my favourite herbs and I use it in so many dishes that I always plant too much fearing I might run out!
One of my favourite easy peasy basil recipes is pesto. I make this almost every week during the summer months as it keeps well for a couple of weeks if covered with extra virgin oil. I will then use the pesto to make some quick and easy meals. I often toss the pesto though some pasta with sliced cherry tomatoes and you have a meal in minutes. It is great with baked salmon as a side or cooking the salmon with the pesto on top ………. I could go on and on but I am sure you get the idea.
I make my pesto using cashews as I like the flavour of cashews and I always have these in my pantry. It is lovely made with pinenuts or you could try some other nuts to suit you.
Cashew Pesto Recipe
A large bunch of basil (approx. 2 cups chopped up)
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1-2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup cashews (or pinenuts, almonds etc)
3/4 cup extra virgin oil
- Place basil, parmesan, cashews and garlic in a food processor. Process until well chopped.
- Keep the blender running and add the olive oil in a steady stream until smooth
- Place in a clean container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
I have also included a delicious hummus recipe that uses basil. This recipe is from a beautiful book that is a recent addition to my collection. I am sure there will be a lot more recipes on my blog from this book.
Basil & Raw Garlic Hummus
400g/14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp. tahini
30 g basil, roughly chopped ( I didn’t measure just used a large handful of leaves)
pinch of paprika
1-2 garlic cloves
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
4-5 tbsp. cold water ( I added a bit of extra virgin oil instead)
salt and pepper (optional)
30g fresh basil sprigs, to garnish
- Place the chickpeas, tahini, basil, paprika, garlic cloves and lemon zest and juice in a food processor. Process to a coarse mixture.
- With the food processor still running, slowly add the cold water ( or olive oil) until a smooth, thick paste is formed, adding a little more if needed. Season with salt and pepper, if using.
- Garnish with basil and serve immediately or place in a covered container and keep in the fridge. This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Recently, there has been much research into the health benefits conferred by the essential oils found in basil. Scientific studies in vitro have established that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties, and potential for use in treating cancer. In addition, basil has been shown to decrease the occurrence of platelet aggregation and experimental thrombus in mice. It is traditionally used for supplementary treatment of stress, asthma and diabetes mellitus in India.
Basil, like other aromatic plants such as fennel and tarragon, contains estragole, a known carcinogen and teratogen in rats and mice. While human effects are currently unstudied, extrapolation using body weight from the rodent experiments indicates that 100–1000 times the normal anticipated exposure still probably produces a minimal cancer risk.“
Happy Cooking 🙂