07/27/2010 02:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Basil Is King

At my house, we wait all year for high summer and the first taste of slightly peppery fresh basil. But, when it is finally in full harvest mode, many gardeners are at a loss as to what to do with it all.

Of all the herbs, basil is one of the most popular and it just may be because its name, derived from the Greek, means kingly. Basil is a moody and finicky plant; it does not like cold, and it does not take well to standing in water for too long a time before it begins to go limp.

So whether you grow it, crave it, or buy it, here are ten easy ways to use an overabundance . . . short of leaving it on your neighbor's doorstep.

Ten things to do with your crop of basil:

  1. Pesto Sauce
  2. Tomato Basil Sauce (add fresh whole springs to simmering tomato sauce
  3. Caprese Salad (layer garden fresh tomato slices, slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and whole leaves of basil; drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and coarse salt.
  4. Basil Infused Simple Syrup (combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in small saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves completely. Add 12 whole basil leaves off the heat and allow to steep for several hours. Discard basil. Use syrup to brush on grilled fruits like nectarines and peaches or mix it into fruit salads.
  5. Basil Butter (mix minced basil into whipped butter and spread on corn or mix into hot vegetables)
  6. Basil Omelet (add minced basil to egg mixture)
  7. Basil Bread (mix minced leaves into bread dough)
  8. Basil Wraps (use large leaves instead of bread to wrap chicken salad)
  9. Basil Infused Vinegar (steep a bunch of leaves in hot vinegar)
  10. Freeze the leaves in small zip lock bags for use in soups and stews