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. 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 felt like a natural thing to do, and damn are these Thai Basil Pesto Noodles good.
Possibly even better because, unlike sweet basil pesto, these noodles are dairy free, vegan and lower in fat.
What’s the difference between Thai basil and regular basil?
Thai basil has thinner, smaller leaves that sweet basil, which grow on purple stems. It is commonly used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking, and lends a very mild anise flavor to curries and stir fry sauces. It reminds me in some ways of tarragon, but with a slightly bolder flavor profile.
It smells heavenly, too. It’s milder in flavor than regular sweet basil, so you can use more of it. It also is more heat-friendly than regular basil, meaning you can cook it into a dish and it will hold up nicely.
How to Make Thai Basil Pesto Sauce
Just like with sweet basil pesto, it all comes together in a blender. Because Thai basil leaves are smaller than sweet basil leaves, you’ll need more of them to complete the recipe. Usually, one bunch of sweet basil (about 2 cups) from the supermarket is enough to make a batch of pesto. For these Thai Basil 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. Any left over leaves can be used to garnish your beautiful noodle bowls at the end.
We’re throwing all of the pesto sauce ingredients into a blender:
- Thai basil leaves
- garlic cloves
- sesame oil
- vegetable oil
- dry roasted peanuts
- salt & pepper
Process 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.
How to serve Thai Basil Pesto Noodles
These Thai Basil 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?
If you make these Thai Basil Pesto Noodles, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment or drop a rating below. Enjoy!
For more Thai-inspired recipes, try these:
- Citrus Thai Basil Shrimp with Coconut Rice
- Thai Basil Chicken & Coconut Rice
- Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps
For more easy weeknight meals, try these:
Thai Basil 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.
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