Lately the basil plant potted on my porch has been growing out of control, so I’ve been trying to find ways to incorporate basil into my recipes as much as possible! Its fresh flavor is an easy way to make even the simplest dishes taste gourmet. Last week I came up with two great recipes to make use of this lovely herb: zucchini basil soup and pasta with fresh vegetables, basil and parmesan.

The basil soup recipe was a variation of a dish that I found on I happened to have about 5 zucchini on hand, an impulse buy from Marketbasket that I couldn’t turn down (only $2.34!). I diced an onion and 4 cloves of garlic, and sautéed in olive oil in a 3 quart pan on the stove, for about 5 minutes until browned. Then I sliced up the zucchinis into large chunks, and added in, sautéing for another 5 minutes, until they were tender, then added 1 cup of chicken broth to the mix. This got added into my blender, in two batches (careful when blending hot liquids!). I grabbed a huge handful of basil and chopped it up – it came out to about a cup – and threw in the blender as well. The result? A delicious, creamy soup without any added cream! I was pretty amazed at how great the texture was. This recipe is definitely for basil lovers – the flavor is very strong, almost tasting like a pesto soup.

Later in the week, I brought home yet another zucchini, plus some summer squash and cherry tomatoes, from the farmers market. For a quick and easy dinner, I sautéed the zucchini and squash in some olive oil until tender, then added the cherry tomatoes for about 1 minute. I threw the vegetables in with some whole wheat spaghetti, about a tablespoon of olive oil, about ¼ cup parmesan cheese, and ½ cup of chopped fresh basil. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best!