Don’t know what to do with your harvest of Thai basil? This Thai Basil Pesto is full of great Asian flavors and is a unique and flavorful variation on a traditional pesto. It’s perfect on soba noodles or on top of fish or seafood.
When I worked in Boston, my coworkers and I frequented a super delicious Thai restaurant called Thai Basil. My favorite thing to get was the Thai Basil Salad, which was a huge fresh salad topped with tons of shrimp and chicken and these curious pointy-looking basil leaves that had a little more bite to them than your typical basil.
I still dream about that salad once in a while.
When I was planting my garden, of course basil was one thing that was definitely going in. But while shopping for regular, Italian sweet basil, I stumbled upon seeds for Thai basil!
Thai basil has that basil-y taste, but is a little more anise-y/licorice-y. It’s different and just… really good. It’s the unique flavor you find in my favorite Thai dish, Pad Kee Mao – Thai Drunken Noodles, on your plate of pho add-ins, and in lots of other Asian specialties.
Turns out it grows really well, too! While my regular basil was looking scraggly and yellowed from the heat, my Thai basil was OUT. OF. CONTROL.
So I had to make something with it! Too much basil = pesto, naturally. But Thai basil? I wasn’t really sure the licorice flavor with go with parmesan and pine nuts in a traditional pesto. But how about pesto with Thai flavors like peanuts and lime? Heck, yes!
So instead of pine nuts, we’ve got peanuts. Instead of lemon juice, we’ve got fresh lime juice. Instead of parmesan, we’ve got fish sauce to add that salty umami depth. Plus it’s kicked up with some fresh ginger and jalapeños.
I tossed some soba noodles, shrimp and red pepper strips with the pesto, then topped it all with crushed peanuts. It was super yummy. I’m thinking of using some of the leftover pesto in fresh spring rolls!
I love a good Italian pesto, but this one is unique and extra flavorful. It would be great with seafood and shrimp, or even as the base of a Thai chicken pizza. Any dish you’d use regular pesto in– think of it’s Asian counterpart, and this is your perfect condiment!
This is great for gifting to friends because no one expects it. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who have never had or even heard of Thai basil, so this is a great way to get your friends to try something new. When the next garden planting season rolls around, you’re definitely going to want to keep an eye out for some Thai basil seeds!
- 2 cups packed Thai basil leaves
- ½ cup dry roasted peanuts
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ inch fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1-2 jalapenos, halved
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Place basil, peanuts, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, lime juice and jalapenos in a food processor.
- Pulse a few times to roughly chop.
- Turn the food processor on and, while it's running, drizzle in olive oil. Process until smooth.
- Store in the fridge in an airtight container.