BASIL AND SPINACH SOUP WITH LEMON CREAM
Rinse 2 bunches of spinach well, drain and discard stems. (You should have about 16 cups leaves.) In a vessel, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 onion, finely chopped and cook until soft. Mix in 1 clove garlic, minced. Then add spinach and 1 cup fresh basil leaves, stirring often until leaves wilt. Add 3 1/2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Scoop out spinach and basil and transfer to a blender. Add a little of the broth and process until smooth. Return puree to pan. Mix in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 3/4th cup of whipping cream. Reheat to serving temperature; taste, and add salt if needed. In a medium bowl combine 1/4 cup cream with 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind. Beat until stiff. Spoon a little of the lemon mixture over each serving of the hot soup.
FRESH BASIL PESTO
In a processor combine 2 cups fresh basil and 3 cloves garlic, blend to fine past. Add 1/2 cup pine nuts and 3/4 cup grating cheese and process until smooth. With the machine running, pour 3/4 cup olive oil through feed tube in slow steady stream and mix until smooth and creamy. If pesto is too thick gradually pour up to 1/4 cup warm water through feed tube with machine running. Transfer pesto to jar. To store: Cover surface with film of olive oil.
THAI CHICKEN WITH FRESH BASIL
Skin 500g chicken breast, deboned and cut into 1 inch strips. Remove stems from 2 serrano chilies and cut lengthwise into thin strips (discard the seeds). Heat 3 tablespoons oil in wok over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons garlic, coarsely chopped and stir until golden brown, about 10 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of basil and the chilies and stir-fry just until basil wilts, about 1 minute. Add chicken and stir-fry about 3 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons nuoc nam (fish sauce), 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons sugar and stir-fry until sauce bubbles and thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of basil and stir-fry until just wilted, about 5 seconds. Serve immediately with steamed rice.
PESTO (BASIL AND CHEESE SAUCE) SPAGHETTI
Place 2/3 cups coarsely chopped basil leaves (or 2 tablespoons crushed dried basil), 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a little pepper, 1 clove garlic in a blender or food processor. Cover and blend on high until mixture is a uniform consistency. Cook 300g spaghetti or noodles and drain. Toss spaghetti with basil mixture and 2 tablespoons butter. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired. Pesto sauce keeps in refrigerator too.
TOMATO SALAD WITH BASIL DRESSING
Slice 4 tomatoes and put into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with salt and gently mix. Add 2 tablespoons basil leaves which are washed and sniped and gently mix again. Pour 4 tablespoons olive oil and mix again. Chill. You can make this salad ahead as long as you take it out of refrigerator 1/2 hour before serving. It should be served chilled not cold.