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Basil butter recipe: how to make, use & store

Mar 6, 2020 | Accompaniments, Extras

A great basil butter recipe is all about the fresh, fragrant aroma of basil.

How to use fresh basil leaves 
Make the most of the fresh basil season – one of my favourite herbs. To me, basil smells just like summer, so I try to use the refreshing aroma in as many ways as possible.

Basil can be added to salads, sandwiches, roasted veg and almost any recipe using tomatoes. It’s great in egg dishes, pasta, on pizza and with chicken and mince. The simplest and best of summer salads is slices of tomato, fresh basil leaves, a cheese of your choice and a good drizzle of olive or avodaco oil. Have you added basil to watermelon and feta for a salad? Delicious!

Make the most of basil
One of the best ways to preserve basil for later, is to make a jar or two of pesto. This flavour-bursting mixture of basil, garlic, cheese and nuts is a versatile sauce, spread or accompaniment. It can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks and freezes very successfully. Or place shredded basil leaves in ice cube trays, top with olive or avocado oil and freeze, to use for sautéing, pan-frying or to toss into hot pasta.

And then there is this basil butter recipe, combining typical pesto flavours blended into soft butter. It’s easy to prepare and freezes well, so you can keep enjoying basil for many weeks to come.

As with pesto, there are endless ways to use the basil butter. Add spoonfuls to warm roasted veggies, like butternut, brinjal and peppers. Stir into warm pasta, couscous, blanched green beans or broccoli or your favourite stir-fry. Serve dollops on baked potatoes, sweet potatoes or grilled corn on the cob. It’s perfect with any tomato sarmie or braaibroodjie. Spread on freshly baked bread, toast or use as an alternative to garlic butter. The butter is also great to fry eggs in or on pan-fried fish, beef or chicken fillets. For the ultimate steak, top with a thick slice of basil butter and let it melt over the meat – much easier than making a sauce and oh so divine.



Basil tips

  • Basil is very easy to grow – both in a pot or in the garden.
  • Basil has bright green, delicate leaves that are best cut with scissors or a sharp knife or torn gently, to prevent bruising. Remember, bruised leaves discolour easily.
  • Add basil at the end of the cooking time to preserve as much of the flavour as possible.
  • Basil is delicious with fresh summer fruit, like strawberries, grapes and peaches. Add to a salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
  • Keep a few basil sprigs in water in the kitchen to keep the flies away.

Basil butter recipe


125 ml (½ cup) soft butter, cubed

75 ml (5 tbsp) olive oil

60 ml (¼ cup) chopped fresh basil

1 clove of garlic, crushed

50 ml finely grated pecorino cheese

15 ml (1 tbsp) finely grated lemon rind

black pepper


1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend well together. Season with a good grind of black pepper. Or whisk everything together in a bowl and season.
2. Spoon butter into a jar or other suitable container to refrigerate. Or spoon onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a sausage. Cover with more plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until needed – this makes slicing so much easier.
3. Use in any of the ways suggested.

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