This tasty herb can be used in multiple ways in cooking, for everything from flavoursome main courses to desserts and even drinks.
BASIL ICE CREAM
Fresh basil leaves
Can of sweetened condensed milk
Blanch 45g basil leaves in salted boiling water, drain in a fine sieve over an ice bath and squeeze out excess moisture. Purée the leaves with 3 tablespoons condensed milk. In a large bowl, beat 500ml double cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla essence until thick. Add remainder of condensed milk and basil purée and continue beating. Pour mixture into a plastic container and place in the freezer. Mix with a fork every 45 minutes until almost frozen, or use an ice cream machine. Remove ice cream from the freezer 10 minutes before serving.
* Recipe: Spiced Lamb Hand Pies with Quick Tomato Sauce
* Recipe: Caramelised Onion & Blue Cheese Scrolls
* Recipe: Blueberry Cream Cheese Squares
Sparkling white wine
In a cocktail shaker or lidded jar combine 30ml white vermouth with 3 basil leaves and some ice. Strain the liquid into a glass, add fresh ice and top with 120ml sparkling white wine. Garnish with more basil leaves.
THAI BASIL & PRAWN NOODLES
Marinade: Grind together 1 chilli (seeds removed, chopped), 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 4 crushed cloves garlic and 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil.
Prawn noodles: Place 750g prawns (peeled, deveined, tail on) in half of the marinade, reserving the rest. Cook prawns until pink. Blanch 250g broccolini for 1 minute then plunge into ice water. Cook 125g noodles according to packet instructions, then stir in 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, ⅓ cup fish sauce and 1/3 cup lemon juice with the remaining marinade.
To assemble: Toss prawns, broccolini, noodles, 250g cherry tomatoes, ½ cup Thai basil leaves, and a cup each of mint and coriander leaves with the dressing. Serve immediately, garnished with 2-3 teaspoons chopped peanuts.
HONEY ROASTED STRAWBERRIES & MASCARPONE CREAM WITH PURPLE BASIL
Purple basil leaves
Preheat oven to 160˚C. Place 750g halved strawberries in a tray, drizzle with 2 tablespoons runny honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence and 1 tablespoon lemon juice and combine. Bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, mix 250g mascarpone, 250g crème fraîche, 8 tablespoons runny honey and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence. Serve strawberries hot with the cream, sprinkled with ⅓ cup purple basil leaves.
TOMATO & GREEK BASIL TARTE TATIN WITH BUFFALO MOZZARELLA
Grated parmesan cheese
Buffalo mozzarella, Greek basil leaves, freshly ground black pepper
Heat some olive oil in a cast-iron pan. Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey and 3-4 thyme sprigs then 700g tomatoes and cook over medium heat until tomatoes pop and release some of the juices. Remove pan from heat and cool for a few minutes. Preheat oven to 200˚C. Sprinkle tomatoes with 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs and cover with 1 sheet of puff pastry. Prick the pastry with a fork and bake the tarte for 25 minutes or until golden. Invert a large plate over the pan and flip the tarte tatin onto the plate. Serve with buffalo mozzarella, Greek basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.