Basil Sauce

You’ll want to drizzle this basil sauce on everything! It’s herby, garlicky and bright green: like a pesto without cheese and nuts.

Basil sauce

Here’s a sauce you’ll want to put on just about everything…bright green basil sauce! It’s packed full of garlicky, herby flavor: essentially like a pesto without the nuts and cheese. It’s more intensely packed with flavor than pesto: like a garlic and basil oil. Use it on just about anything a punch of basil: pasta, seafood, juicy ripe tomatoes, Caprese salad…anything is better with basil sauce. Here’s how to make it, the trick to making it stay bright green, and more ways to use it!

Ingredients in basil sauce

The nice thing about basil sauce? Pesto is what we usually make when our basil plant is bushy and overflowing. But pesto calls for pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, which aren’t cheap. Basil sauce drops those pricey ingredients, but you still have all that great fresh basil flavor. It’s almost like a dairy-free and nut-free pesto. But mostly, it’s a bright green, delicious sauce that’s endlessly versatile. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Basil leaves
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
Basil sauce

How to blanch basil (to keep it bright green!)

This basil sauce starts with a step to make sure the sauce stays beautifully bright green. It’s called blanching! Blanching is a cooking method where you boil vegetables until they’re crisp tender, then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. The point of it? To lock in the bright green color of vegetables that turn brown. Here’s how to get a beautifully bright green basil sauce:

  • Boil only 30 seconds to 1 minute! The boiling time is quick: you just want it to be bright green! Add the basil to a small saucepan of boiling water and boil until bright green, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Immediately plunge into an ice bath. This stops the cooking process and locks in the color. Once the leaves are cool, remove them from the water and squeeze out as much water as possible.
Basil sauce

Blend it up!

Once you’ve blanched the basil, this basil sauce takes no time at all. Simply add the basil to a blender with the other ingredients and whiz it up! A few notes on blending: you can use a standard blender or even better, a smaller blender like an immersion blender. The amount of sauce is not large, so if you have a small blender it’s easier to blend. You can also use a food processor if you have one.

Ways to use basil sauce

There are so many ways to use this flavor-packed basil sauce! Here are some ideas to get you started:

Basil

All about basil

Basil is easy to grow, and by mid-summer you’ll likely have a big bush of it! If you don’t grow your own basil, it’s time to start. It’s easy to do and requires little tools and planning.

This basil sauce recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Basil sauce

Easy Basil Sauce


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 9 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 minute
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 cup 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

You’ll want to drizzle this basil sauce on everything! It’s herby, garlicky and bright green: like a pesto without cheese and nuts.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup basil leaves, packed
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Blanch the basil: This preserves the bright green color. Start a small pot of water to boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Remove the basil leaves from the stem and wash them; measure out 1 packed cup of leaves (make sure to pack the cup full for the best flavor). Once the water is boiling, add the basil and boil until bright green, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. Immediately turn off the heat, remove the basil and plunge it into the ice bath. Once the leaves are cool, remove them from the water and squeeze out as much excess water as possible.
  3. Blend the sauce: Place the blanched basil, olive oil, garlic and salt in a blender or in the cup for an immersion blender. Blend until fully combined. Taste and add lemon juice and additional salt to taste. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Basil sauce

More basil recipes

Basil is one of our most used herbs in the kitchen! Here are a few more great basil recipes:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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