cooking with fresh basil

Hi. We’re thinking about adding fresh basil to our items. Want to know if it’s better to put it on in the beginning, in the middle or after it’s done. Any advice is helpful. Thanks

If you are looking at adding to pizzas, fresh will work best with minimal cooking. That means adding torn or chiffonade leaves directly to the pie. Two options would be 1) add to pie right on top of the sauce, or 2) add to top of pie immediately out of oven then cut. You’ll get two slightly different flavor profiles out of it. The cooked one will be slightly more earthy and a little muted, but permeates the pie. The torn on top version will have a powerful aroma immediately as the pie heat wilts/cooks the leaves and releases the essential aromatics. As soon as the box is opened, it will waft right out, same with delivered to the table where it will just surround the customer. Alternatively, you could fry/crisp then in the fryer and use for a garnish.

For pasta, add it to the sauce immediately before plating, after tossing the pasta. Again you could go with the chiffonade on top and let customer stir it through. For baked pastas, add it to lasagna or casseroles at assembly using cold ingredients. Minced into some ricotta makes for a lovely canneloni or calzone filling.

It is great raw on salads and bruscetta. A toasted bread round, rubbed with garlic, drizzle with olive oil, a whole basil leaf, a half roasted plum tomato, a thin slice of fresh mozz and some kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Appetizer.

chiffonade = rolled and cut into thin ribbons

I agree with Nick’s response above, but I like to add the basil to the dough surface before I add the “sauce”. Explaination needed: My sauce consiste of Stanislaus 74/40 tomato filets well drained, nothing else. I begin by applying a light coating of garlic infused olive oil to the dough skin, then I add the basil, and I try to cover as much of the basil as possible with the tomato fliets, I then add my cheese and toppings to order. If using a traditional sauce, I wil push the basil leaves down into the sauce and then make sure they’re covered with cheese to protect them during baking. Adding a few fresh basil leaves to the pizza immediately out of the oven adds a WONDERFUL aroma to the pizza, and it adds a nice look to it too. If you use fresh basil, I’d suggest forgetting where you put the dried oregano, as in my personal opinion, it doesn’t play well with the fresh basil on a pizza.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor


I’m with Tom on the dried oregano. Fresh marjoram is the same family as oregano, is a more subtle, fragrant herb, and plays exceedingly well with the fresh basil. Fresh oregano will do fine . . .marjoram is the kicker, though. Both are little leafy things that are more fiddley than the big honking basil leaves.

What is a tomato “filet”? I am familiar with most stanislauss products but have never heard of them.

Okay, I guess I should have been a little more specific. If I wanted to add it as a topping (ie. a Margahrita Pizza), when would I add it. I already have basil in my sauce and dried as a shaker topping. Not used to using fresh on top of the pizza itself. Thanks.


We use fresh basil (from our gardens) on our Margarhita pizzas. We sauce and cheese, add sliced tomato and torn fresh basil then top with cheese.
The aroma when the pizza is cooking is incredible and the taste is far superior to using dried basil as previously done. Leave the dried stuff on the shelf from now on.


Tomato filets are called 74/40 Tomato Filets - Strips of Peeled Tomato by Stanislaus. They also have an 80/40 Tomato Filet, but my preference is for the 74/40 product as I like the flavor more.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

When I use fresh basil on a Margahrita pizza, I like to use it as an “Italian Wedding Boquet”, that is I use the 4-leaf cluster (top of the sprig) consisting of two large leaves and two smaller leaves and place it right in the center of the pizza as soon as it comes out of the oven. I’ve seen others just place several leaves around the top of the pizza as soon as it comes out of the oven too. The heat of the pizza will wilt the leaves and flatten them onto the pizza while releasing that wonderful aroma.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

We grow our own and pack a few leaves in some aluminum foil and deliver it as a fresh topping that the customer adds.