Ask Pam: How can I use up my bumper crop of basil?

What started out to be two cute little basil plants turned into two bush-size monsters anchoring either side of my garden. Good thing it's my favorite herb! I love it on tomato sandwiches, chopped and stirred into potato salad, chicken salad, tomato-and-cucumber salad, fresh cooked veggies, pasta sauces—the list goes on and on! But, one of the easiest things to make when you've got loads of basil is pesto.

I always start with the Basil Pesto recipe from Southern Living, June 2011 but use two cups of packed basil leaves rather than loosely packed, stir in a little extra Parmesan cheese, and I used toasted pecans rather than pine nuts. Feel free to experiment—pesto is one of those recipes that begs for personal touches!

After you've made your pesto, here are some great ways to use it:

  • Spread on pizza dough and then top with your favorite fresh veggies or meat of choice
  • Stir into cooked new potatoes
  • Slather onto grilled corn on the cob
  • Swirl into soups
  • Toss with any just-cooked pasta
  • Use as a dip for fresh veggies or French fries
  • Top a goat cheese log with pesto and serve with your favorite cracker

You can enjoy a taste of summer year-round by freezing any leftover pesto in ice-cube trays and then placing the frozen cubes in zip-top freezer bags.

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