10 Simple Basil Recipes to Eat Up Your Summer Herb Garden

Basil is a staple in Italian cooking, as well as a favorite in herb gardens everywhere. In fact, my tiny window box of a garden has an overgrowth of basil each summer. Faced with a bounty of basil, what’s a home chef to do? Thankfully, there are just as many delicious basil recipes as aromatic leaves on your plants.

Here are 10 easy recipes to make the most of your basil harvest and reap its nutritious benefits all summer long.

1. Basil Mint Lemonade

This refreshing citrus drink from Oh Sweet Basil will easily become a standby at summer cookouts. The key to the flavor is a basil and mint simple syrup made from scratch.

Oh Sweet Basil

2. Watermelon Basil Salad

Lighter dishes like this simple spinach salad with lime juice dressing from Carrie Bradshaw Lied are an easy way to incorporate basil in a healthy entrée. If the spinach isn’t enough to fill you up, you can add your favorite lean protein on top.

Carrie Bradshaw Lied

3. Caprese Bruschetta

Good quality olive oil and fresh basil leaves bring this delicious appetizer from My Little Italian Kitchen to life. Be warned, the authentic flavors just might transport you straight to Italy.

My Little Italian Kitchen

4. Homemade Margherita Pizza

Opt out of ordering delivery and try this homemade pizza topped with basil from A Beautiful Plate instead. In addition to fresh ingredients, a pizza stone will make a world of difference in the oven.

A Beautiful Plate

5. Thai Basil Chicken

If you’re an ambitious gardener and planted more than one variety of basil, this 10-minute recipe from The Woks of Life is an excellent way to eat through your Thai basil.

The Woks of Life

6. Fresh Tomato Sauce

When tomatoes are abundant, too, skip the pre-made marinara and try your hand at this flexible tomato basil sauce from Smitten Kitchen.

Smitten Kitchen

8. Chocolate Cake with Basil Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate and basil are certainly an unexpected combination! However, The Vanilla Bean Blog calls the duo “almost perfection.” Sample it for yourself with her decadent recipe for a chocolate layer cake with homemade basil buttercream frosting.

The Vanilla Bean Blog

9. Lemon Basil Ice Cream

Basil proves its versatility once again, this time in a treat worth screaming for. Make a homemade scoop by following Georgia Pellegrini‘s farm fresh ice cream recipe.

Georgia Pellegrini

10. Basil Pesto

basil pesto photo
Flickr | wuestenigel

Last but not least, a classic pesto is a delicious way to preserve your precious leaves until summer rolls around again. You can freeze excess pesto and thaw whenever you want a mouthful of summer. Fellow Simplemost writer Brittany Anas graciously shared her go-to pesto recipe:

Combine 2 1/2 cups of basil leaves (stems removed), 1/3 cup of pine nuts or walnuts and four large cloves of garlic in a food processor. Process until very finely minced and slowly dribble 1/2 cup of olive oil into the processor until the mixture is smooth. Then add 1/2 cup of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and mix until just combined.