Fresh Basil Pesto


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach)

1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts (can sub chopped walnuts)

3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)

1/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste


Pulse basil and pine nuts in a food processor: Place the basil leaves and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a several times.

Add the garlic and cheese: Add the garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.

Stream in the olive oil: While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating. Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor.

Stir in salt and freshly ground black pepper, add more to taste.

Toss with pasta for a quick sauce, dollop over baked potatoes, or spread onto crackers or toasted slices of bread.


Caprese Salad Kabobs


24 grape tomatoes

12 cherry-size fresh mozzarella cheese balls

24 fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar


On each of 12 appetizer skewers, alternately thread two tomatoes, one cheese ball and two basil leaves. To serve, whisk together oil and vinegar; drizzle over kabobs.


Strawberry-Basil Cocktail


3 fresh strawberries, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced fresh basil

3/4 to 1 cup ice cubes

2 ounces vodka

1/2 ounce club soda

1 teaspoon simple syrup

1 teaspoon cranberry juice

Pinch pepper


In a shaker, muddle strawberries and basil. Fill shaker three-fourths full with ice. Add the remaining ingredients; cover and shake 10-15 seconds or until condensation forms on outside of shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

To make your own simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat; simmer 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely. Store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Use to sweeten cocktails, iced tea or lemonade. Yield: 1-2/3 cups.


Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Bruschetta


1 (32-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained

1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and spun dry

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large French baquettes, sliced 1-inch thick (about 36 slices)

1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In the bowl of a food processor, add drained tomatoes, 1 cup basil leaves, olive oil and 2 cloves garlic. Pulse until smooth, but somewhat chunky. Season with salt and pepper.

On a baking sheet, line up baguette slices. Toast in oven for about 3 minutes or until light golden brown. Working quickly, rub the remaining garlic on the toasted side of each slice and then lay a piece of mozzarella cheese on top. Place bread back in oven and melt cheese slightly, about 45 seconds. Remove from oven and spread one tablespoon of the tomato mixture on each piece.

Place bruschetta on decorative platter and garnish with basil leaves.


Cucumber-Basil Lemonade

Servings: 8


2 cups of roughly chopped, skin-on English cucumbers

1 cup of lemon juice

1 cup of water

1/2 to 3/4 cup of local honey

1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup of sparkling water, Prosecco, or a crisp, fruity white wine


In a blender, pulse 1 roughly chopped, skin-on English cucumber (about 2 cups); juice of 6 lemons (about 1 cup); 1 cup water; ½ to ¾ cup local honey (depending on desired sweetness); and ¼ cup fresh basil leaves until ingredients are combined and liquefied. Fill 8 tumblers with ice and divide lemonade evenly between glasses. Top each glass off with ½ cup of sparkling water, Prosecco, or a crisp, fruity white wine, such as Bonterra Organic Sauvignon Blanc.

For a little kick, add a splash of Bonterra Organic Sauvignon Blanc to the Cucumber-Basil Lemonade.