Pesto is easy with a food processor. Put 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, 2 cloves garlic and 1/4 cup pine nuts in the processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese. Pesto goes great on just about anything—noodles, eggs, winter squash, pizza, whatever.
Make an easy Basil and Bread Salad with day-old artisan bread. Cut 12 ounces of bread into cubes. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour over the bread in a large bowl and toss to mix it all up. Add 3 large, chopped tomatoes, 1 large chopped green pepper, 1 cup cubed Mozzarella cheese, 3 finely-minced garlic cloves, and 1 cup slivered basil leaves. Mix it all together and serve over a bed of young spinach leaves. Add feta or olives, if you like.
Basil Syrup can be drizzled over fresh fruit, soft cheese, or even added to a cocktail. Place 1 cup each of water, sugar and basil in small pan and heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, steep for 30 minutes, and strain.