I think the first time I remember eating fresh basil was the summer after I started college when I studied abroad in Paris. I didn't make it to Italy, but I did enjoy many pizza marguerites while I was there. Topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes, this is probably my favorite pizza combo to this day (especially when the cafe owner was adventurous and added a little goat cheese... though my husband would attest I'll eat goat cheese on just about anything). Since then I've enjoyed fresh basil in pasta, pesto, salads, even dessert dishes (see Camilla for some of those, she rocks). It's so good.
For my local peeps, Trader Joe's has these enormous basil plants right now for only $2.99. That's cheaper than the small bunch of already dead fresh basil you can buy in the produce section of Safeway. They'll make you feel very French, too, carrying home the beautiful, fragrant plant in anticipation of many delicious dishes. And with a little water and love (not that much, don't worry, since I can't keep anything alive), these will last year round in Arizona. I have a friend that even landscapes her pool with basil plants- several enormous ones are growing right off the deck and thriving in this desert.
Here are some of my favorite Basil recipes, perfect for summer (even if it's a million outside, you're almost seven months pregnant, and turning on the oven seems like torture). They're quick and painless- and so fresh and delicious you'll throw your bottle of dried basil away.
Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese Tarts
Bruschetta with Sauteed Sweet Peppers and Goat Cheese
Pasta, Pesto, and Peas