What do you do with herbs coming out the wazoo? Make pesto. I do it all summer long with sweet basil. It grows, I make pesto. It grows more, I make more pesto. Then I freeze the pesto. No exaggeration, I’m usually able to stockpile enough pesto in the summer to last clear through to the next gardening season. Making pesto sauce with Thai basil instead of sweet basil felt like a natural thing to do, and damn is it good. And the process is very similar to making regular basil pesto. Here’s how we’re making these Thai Basil Peanut Pesto Noodles:
How to Make Thai Basil Pesto Sauce
Just like with sweet basil pesto, it all comes together in a blender. Thai basil leaves are smaller than sweet basil leaves, so you’ll need more of them to complete the recipe. Usually, one bunch of regular basil (about 2 cups) from the supermarket is enough to make a batch of pesto. For these Thai Basil Peanut Pesto Noodles, I’d suggest grabbing two bunches of Thai basil to hit that 2 cup mark. Unless you’ve got it growing in the garden, like I do, you’ll need to overshoot on the amount you buy at the store. Don’t worry, any left over leaves can be used to garnish your beautiful noodle bowls at the end.
We’re adding the Thai basil leaves, garlic, sesame oil, peanuts and seasonings into the blender and processing it until it’s smooth-ish. You will still see flecks of the leaves, and that’s a good thing. Then, we simply toss the sauce with our cooked noodles and vegetables. A trio of bell peppers in all their glorious colors are great in this recipe. The sweetness of the peppers is a perfect compliment to the slightly peppery, anise-like flavor of the Thai basil.
Choosing the Right Noodles
I like using rice noodles in any Asian-inspired dish. Rice noodles are lighter in flavor and texture and they’re naturally gluten free. If you don’t care about that kind of thing, try using lo mein noodles. They are wheat-based and heartier. I think of them as more of a “winter” noodle because they’re a bit more substantial than rice noodles. You can’t go wrong either way.
These Thai Basil Peanut Pesto Noodles are an easy and fast weeknight recipe that the whole family loves. Add some shrimp or salmon to the pan when you’re sauteing the peppers for extra protein, and save some to eat cold for lunch the next day. It’s really good cold, as The Prince can attest when he’s eating out of the tupperware with the refrigerator door hanging open! Kids, am I right?
Thai Basil Peanut Pesto Noodles
- 2 cups Thai basil leaves, rinsed and dried
- 1 lb. rice noodles
- 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup orange bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup scallions, diced
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp. dry roasted peanuts
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- Cook and drain rice noodles according to package directions.
- In a blender, combine Thai basil leaves, sesame oil, vegetable oil, garlic, peanuts, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.
- In a large skillet, saute the bell peppers in 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil over medium heat until soft, about 6-7 minutes.
- Add the pesto sauce and noodles into the skillet and toss to combine.
- Divide into four serving bowls and garnish with scallions.