This Week It’s Cooking with Basil

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Fresh basil is a versatile herb that adds bright flavor to many dishes. Whether you’re making basil pasta, basil pesto, basil chicken or other basil recipes, basil’s mild and sweet flavor complements a wide range of foods. Growing your own is fairly easy as well!

Grilled Pesto Shrimp Skewers


  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ lbs. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (weight after peeled)
  • Kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 7 wooden skewers


  1. In a food processor pulse basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while pulsing.
  2. Combine raw shrimp with pesto and marinate a few hours in a bowl. Soak wooden skewers in water at least 20 minutes (or use metal ones to avoid this step). Thread shrimp onto 7 skewers.
  3. Heat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan over medium-low heat until hot. Be sure the grates are clean and spray lightly with oil. Place the shrimp on the hot grill and cook until shrimp turns pink on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes; turn and continue cooking until shrimp is opaque and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.

Serves 7, serving size 1 skewer. Each serving contains Calories 180, Fat 8.4 g, Protein 25.3 g, Carbohydrates 0.4 g, Fiber 0.2 g, Sugar 0 g, Sodium 292 mg (without salt).

Easy Summer Pasta Salad


  • 1 pound dry pasta (I use bowtie)
  •  small yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 small orange bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 large seedless cucumber, chopped
  • 1 (12 oz.) jar artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup store bought balsamic dressing (use your favorite brand)
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped basil
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain, then rinse with cold water to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pasta, peppers, cucumber, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes. Pour the balsamic dressing over the pasta salad and gently stir to combine. Add the feta cheese and basil and stir again. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

Serves 8-10.


Lemon Basil Frozen Yogurt


  • 6 cups (48 ounces) plain yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 4 teaspoons grated lemon peel


  1. Line a strainer with four layers of cheesecloth or one coffee filter and place over a bowl. Place yogurt in prepared strainer; cover yogurt with edges of cheesecloth. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Discard liquid from bowl. Place yogurt in a large bowl; stir in the basil, sugar, walnuts and lemon peel.
  2. Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer; freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to a freezer container; freeze for 2-4 hours before serving.

Yields 3 cups. Each ½ cup serving contains Calories 279, Fat 14 g, Cholesterol 32 mg, Sodium 113 mg, Carbohydrate 30 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 11 g.

Chicken Salad with Olive Oil and Basil


  • 3 cups chopped, cooked chicken
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons white balsamic (or other) vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 to 4 scallions
  • ⅓ cup each, basil, tarragon, cilantro, Thai basil, mint (number of herbs is optional)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 or 2 more tablespoons
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes or a mince hot chili (optional)


  1. Thinly slice the onion and place in a bowl. Cover with two tablespoons of vinegar and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  2. Slice the scallions somewhat thinly (or not) and add to the bowl. Give the herbs a rough chop and add to the bowl. Add the macerated red onions and the ¼ cup of olive oil. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Add pepper flakes or chili to taste.
  3. Add chicken, use your hands to toss everything together. Take a taste. If necessary add another tablespoon of vinegar and olive oil. Add more salt if necessary. Toss again and taste until seasoning is right. Serve.

Fresh Tomato Basil Dip


  • 2 (8 ounce) packages fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) container fat free sour cream
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Ground black pepper to taste


  • Combine, cream cheese, sour cream, basil, Italian parsley, tomatoes, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, tomato paste, onion salt, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on High until whipped, 2 to 3 minutes.

Basil Corn & Tomato Bake Recipe


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can reduced fat reduced sodium condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
  • 4 cups fresh corn
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
  • ¾ cup soft whole wheat bread crumbs
  • ⅓ minced fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Additional minced fresh basil, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and condensed soup until blended. Stir in vegetables, bread crumbs, basil, salt and onion. Transfer mixture to an 11×7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  2. Bake, uncovered, 40-45 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with additional basil.

Yield: 10 servings.

Prosciutto Basil Pesto Pizza Twists


  • 1 container of refrigerated Pillsbury pizza crust
  • 2 tablespoons Basil pesto
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 prosciutto slices
  • Olive oil for brushing


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Unroll the crust and top with pesto. Spread the pesto out with a spatula to cover the entire top of the dough. Sprinkle with cheese and then top with prosciutto slices.
  2. Using a knife cut 5 to 6 long pieces and then start to twist each one. Start with one end and twist to the middle and then pick up other end to finish off the twisting. Repeat until all twists are made and then brush the top of each one with olive oil.
  3. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.