Saturday, July 26, 2008

Basil Vinaigrette for Drizzling on Tomatoes (or Why I think Everyone Should Grow Basil)

Basil Vinaigrette
Ripe garden tomatoes with Basil Vinaigrette is one of my favorite things about summer!

(Updated July 2008) I've written about basil vinaigrette a few times since I first posted this recipe, but last night I picked a huge bucket of basil from my garden, chopped it up in my food processor with olive oil, froze some of the chopped basil, and made a big batch of basil vinaigrette with the rest for a family party tonight. That's when I decided it was time to update this post with a photo of basil vinaigrette, one of my favorite things about summer. I love tomatoes any way you prepare them, but serving tomatoes with basil vinaigrette drizzled over them takes the summer tomato thing to a whole new level.

This dressing uses purchased vinaigrette. If you're a salad dressing purist, of course you can make your own. I'm completely a purist about some foods and totally into convenience for others. For example, chicken stock is something I religiously make from scratch and I'm convinced nothing from a can ever tastes as good. Salad dressing, on the other hand, is something that I can make if I want to, but I often think, why bother? There are so many fantastic dressings on the market, and so many other things I want to make instead.

Basil Vinaigrette for Drizzling over Tomatoes
(Check after the recipe for other uses for Basil Vinaigrette. If anyone has other good suggestions for using this, please share them in the comments.)

Combine at room temperature:
3 parts of your favorite low sugar vinaigrette dressing
1 part basil puree (see below)
(I love to make this with Le Parisien Vinaigrette, which is only sold in Utah and surrounding states.  Another good choice is Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing.)

Mix well, using food processor or mini-blender if desired. Use to drizzle over sliced tomatoes, sliced tomatoes topped with goat cheese, or sliced tomatoes layered over fresh mozarella.

How to make the basil puree:
1 cup (tightly packed) fresh basil leaves, washed and dried well
1/2 cup (or less for stronger basil flavor) best quality extra virgin olive oil

Put basil into bowl of food processor. Turn processor on and pour oil through feed tube. Process until basil is in very small pieces and completely integrated into olive oil. You should still be able to see some basil pieces but they will be very small. This freezes very well and is great for adding to pasta sauce all winter long. You can also use a similar method to freeze basil in larger pieces.

When I make this I rarely measure. I pack the bowl of the food processor with basil leaves, then start the motor running and drizzle olive oil through the feed tube until the basil is moving around in the bowl. I put more or less oil, depending on how I'm going to be using the basil.

You can use any type of Italian or Vinaigrette dressing for this that you think has good flavor. For the South Beach Diet, choose a dressing with not more than 3 grams of sugar. (I previously have recommend not over 2 grams of sugar, but the newest book - The South Beach Diet Supercharged - says up to 3 grams of sugar.)

More Ideas from Kalyn's Kitchen for using Basil Vinaigrette:
Lightly Steamed Asparagus with Basil Vinaigrette
Grilled Halibut with Basil Vinaigrette
Summer Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese, Basil Vinaigrette, and Fresh Herbs
Hearts of Palm Salad with Tomatoes, Olives, and Fetacounter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. Kalyn, I really like your site and visit often. But I couldn't disagree with you more on commercial vinaigrette. It is so simple to prepare a basic vinaigrette from scratch and fun to play with flavor variations that, when you factor in the sixteen unneeded ingredients in the commercial and the cost of the bottle, label, shipping and mark-up, there is no excuse for not making it yourself.

    Another benefit to homemade is that you can make small quantities to complement specific salads or meals without crowding the fridge with half full bottles of store bought dressings.

    One man's rant.

    Michael Z

  2. Michael, rant on! Everything you say is completely true. I do make my own dressings sometimes too. But there are always so many interesting and fun things on my "want to cook" list that I do buy pre-made salad dressing quite often.

  3. This post went straight to my heart - I can't grow basil to save my life!

  4. Vicki, I am so sorry! My sincere condolences! Is there not enough sunlight in your yard? It literally grows like a weed in Utah. My garden has full sun nearly all day and everything grows pretty well here.

  5. I can get full sun in some places, but no matter where I put the basil, it always turns brown from the soil up towards the tips. I've tried more water, less water, clay in the soil, sand in the soil, all with the same results. :-(

  6. I wish I knew what to suggest, but I have no idea what would cause that.

  7. Yum!!! I love my basil plant and use basil in everything. It's especially delicious in a watermelon salad I made recently... Maybe I'll try the watermelon salad with this vinaigrette!

  8. First time reader and I couldn't have found you at a better time! I just clipped my basil for the first time ever tonight and I had absolutely NO idea what to do!!

    I look forward to reading as much as I can here and making my own vinaigrette in the coming weeks! (Sadly, the growing season will be ending far too soon here in Ohio!)


  9. What a great idea. Although I would probably qualify as a dressing purist and make the whole lot from scratch. Now, just need to start growing the basil...

  10. Basil is one of my favorite spices, being Italian, it is essential. I think it would be great if everyone grew it b/c then I would be able to borrow it when I have used up all mine. :)

    Sharon May

  11. I'm not a purist by any means, but I never buy store bought dressing anymore. Too many strange ingredients and overpowering flavors. And as long as you are using a food processor or blender for the basil you may as well make your own. It is so fast and simple and economical. My favorite recipe is from Martha Stewart...1 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar, 2 T. dijon mustard, salt & pepper to taste.

    I do, on occasion, use canned (or aseptic) chicken broth :-)

  12. Great post and recipe, Kalyn. Basil is a MUST herb in everyone's garden. Nothing tastes better than simply adding fresh basil to 'everyday' salad greens ... the kitchen smells devine, the lingering scent haunting on long winter nights.

  13. Hi, I found you on Blogher, which I joined a few days ago, and share your interests in healthy often low-glycemic cooking and recipes, and in gardening.
    My husband and I agree that basil and tomatoes are a must grow, and this recipe looks delicious. I don't have a food processor, but do have a blender so shall try it.
    I blog about gardening and recipes too, at
    I plan to visit you again soon.

  14. You're killin me here, Kalyn. Again with the home grown basil. ;) Tell you what, how about I rent a portion of your garden and fed-ex the basil over?

  15. Susan, I think you just solved my basil problem - I'll split the rent with you. And since we're both in San Diego, Kalyn could save on shipping. :-)

  16. I do hope all you guys are making some basil vinaigrette. I took this bottle to my dad's house when I made dinner for them, and we loved it.

    Susan and Vicki, I do wish I could really send you some! I have more than enough to share.

  17. I just love basil and grow it in my garden as well. This year, it seems that I haven't done enough cooking of anything, and have an overabundance of basil! I was just thinking tonight that I need to find something to do with it, and then found this - it looks Perfect! Thanks so much for sharing :)

    Now I'm off to find out how you freeze it, because I always wind up tossing my dried up basil away. Ugh, what a waste!

  18. Dawn if I help can keep your basil from going to waste, that makes me happy!

  19. Excited to try this recipe, but wondering how long you can keep this in the fridge? Since the basil is immersed in oil and salad dressing, will it keep longer than the 1 week suggested for pesto?

  20. I'm not sure I've ever kept this in the fridge longer than a week (it doesn't last longer than that at ny house) but it will certainly keep that long.

  21. Hi Kalyn,

    Simple and beautiful recipe. Thanks!

    1 question - how long can this be stored for?



  22. Shaluu, I've often it had it in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but I don't think it would last much longer than that.

  23. Hi,regarding the vinaigrette storage. Won't the oo congeal in the frig? Also,if there a brand name you can suggest in the place of homemade? Thanks alot.

  24. Since the dressing is already emulsified when you blend in the basil puree, I've never had a problem with the olive oil thickening. Sorry, but I haven't seen a commercial version of this dressing.

  25. I love making my own salad dressings. Actually, I don't think I've ever purchased a bottle of dressing. I mix whatever I want in the salad bowl before adding the salad, then toss. I NEVER use sugar or other sweeteners. If I want it sweet, I'll add a bit of OJ.

    I stock a variety of oils (walnut, avocado, olive, etc.) and vinegars, which I can use in other ways as well.

  26. Hey Kalyn, What kind of dressing did you use to mix? i always manage to pick the wrong kind when recipes tell me to add my own :(

  27. Matthew I will edit and add that. I love to make this with Le Parisien Vinaigrette, which is only sold in the west. Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing is another good choice.

  28. I'm making this asap and using all summer I'm sure! Thanks for sharing the link today!


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