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An essential part of summertime meals, basil is at its most flavorful soon after picked.
After years of experimenting, we've found the best way to store basil is on the counter in a jar of water, with a plastic bag over the top (which keeps it from wilting). Second best: wrap the bunch in a paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in your fridge. Be careful to keep the leaves dry: wet basil leaves will turn black in the fridge.
Basil, like most soft herbs, is usually best added just before serving. Cooking basil tends to dull its bright flavor. Slice basil leaves thinly and use them to top sliced tomatoes, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, pasta dishes, grain bowls, sauteed summer squash, green bean salads, and more. Of course, basil makes a wonderful pesto, and you needn’t be finicky about it: we mix other herbs (like parsley, dill, or mint) into our pesto along with the basil; or we omit the cheese; or we add anchovies or lemon zest or celery hearts or a chopped hard-boiled egg. In the summer, pesto goes well on top of just about anything.
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