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What To Do With Basil Besides Making Pesto

Do you have an abundance of basil growing in your garden?  I always have so much!  So other than making pesto (which is delicious), what else can you do with it? 


Well, you can use basil in all sorts of dishes, such as on top of your pizza or pasta, blend it into sauces and soups, add to a salad, or garnish it on avocado toast.  Caprese Salad is a cool option during the summer months, and you’ll get to use some of your tomatoes as well, (see recipe below).


When it comes to cooking with basil, don’t skimp.  Basil is packed with so many vitamins and minerals.  It has other benefits, such as, it’s high in antioxidants, so it helps fight free radicals that damage your body.  It helps to slowly release sugar in the blood, which makes it beneficial for people with blood sugar issues.  Basil is an anti-inflammatory, so it can help those with diseases caused by inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and auto-immune diseases.  It also helps reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels.  So, pile on the basil!


You could also air-dry the leaves and store them for use during the winter months.  Or make basil ice cubes in the summer to add to soups and other dishes during the cold months. 


Caprese Salad with Balsamic Glaze

  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, sliced ¼” thick

  • 1-pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼” thick or buy the pre-cut mozzarella

  • ½-1 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

  • Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Directions:

  • Pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 10-15 minutes. 

  • Set pan aside and let balsamic glaze cool for 10 minutes.  It will thicken a bit more as it cools.

  • While glaze cools, arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella on a platter in an alternating pattern.

  • Tuck basil leaves in between each tomato slice and mozzarella slice.  Scatter some of the leaves over the top.

  • Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

  • Drizzle the olive oil and a few tablespoons of balsamic glaze over the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.  You can store the extra balsamic glaze in the refrigerator for up to one month.

  • Serve immediately with crusty bread or as a side dish.


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