We’ve talked before about how one of the fundamental differences between Sara and me is that Sara is amazing when it comes to plants. Growing them. Loving them. Making sure they don’t die. I, on the other hand, am the worst. I killed my little tabletop succulent garden. The only reason my landscaping survives is because it has a sprinkler system and we get a lot of rain in Louisiana and when they planted everything. I gave them explicit instructions to plant only what was next-to-impossible to kill. In the plant world, my house is referred to as “Kate’s House: Where Vegetation Goes to Die.”

That said, my herbs never die. Which makes them my favorite plants. Things got a little touch and go after my German Shepherd ripped up my rosemary plant (he only goes for the rosemary…weird dog), but some little root of it survived and out popped some rosemary a few weeks later.

My herbs (basil, rosemary, and mint) are all planted in pots on my back deck and they have dried out by the end of August, they have been left for dead in the snow, they have had water flowing out of them during the spring monsoon season, and they still come back, every year, regardless of what the weather (or my dog) has in store for them. They are my very best plant friends. Yes, I do realize that someone could use that quote when they try to commit me.

So not only do I have basil growing prolifically in one of my pots, but when I went to take some family pictures for some friends the other night, she brought me a big water bottle full of basil.fresh basil

But I figure you can never have too much because soon summer will be over and we’ll be forced to use dry basil or spend $3.99 on one of those tiny packets of fresh basil at the store, so I’ll take all the basil now, please.

This basil vinaigrette is light and refreshing, kind of like pesto for your salad (minus the pine nuts.) I’m using our garlic olive oil,

basil vinaigrette olive oil

but lemon, chili, regular, or any combination would also be fantastic. I love it just as a salad dressing on a regular salad or drizzled over fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella (kind of like a slightly reimagined caprese), pasta salad, or as a marinade for chicken, fish, or flank steak.

To start, place a couple of cloves of garlic in the jar of your blender or food processor and give it a few pulses to chop it up. Then pack in two cups of basil leaves…

basil vinaigrette blendtec

and add some white wine vinegar,

basil vinaigrette add water

lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and some olive oil.

basil vinaigrette ingredients

Pulse in the blender until the desired consistency is reached. You want it to be liquidy like a salad dressing, but you don’t want to completely pulverize the basil–you still want some texture from it. This makes about 1 cup of dressing.

basil vinaigrette ready to pour

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Basil Vinaigrette

  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1


Light and fresh and perfect for drizzling over fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, your favorite salad, or as a marinade for chicken, flank steak, or fish.


  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Place the garlic in the jar of your blender and pulse a few times to mince the garlic. Add the basil, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and red pepper flakes and pulse until a dressing consistency is formed (but it isn’t completely smooth–you still want some texture from the basil. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.


  • I used our garlic olive oil, but lemon, chili, or regular olive oil, or any combination would be fantastic




  1. Hey Kate, this looks delish! So, if I use the OBB garlic olive oil, do I still put four cloves of garlic in the dressing? Or do I omit the garlic cloves? Thanks!

    1. Um, those aren’t Jamberries. I’m incredibly talented and skilled in the art of perfectly straight chevron stripes.

      Just kidding.

      I can’t even regular paint my nails without it looking like a 5-year-old did it, hahaha!

  2. I usually come and check your recipes out on the day you post them, but this time I didn’t even finish your post because the line where you said that your basil survives anything and that it lasts all summer hit me in the head like a hammer. How do you do it? I always manage to kill basil and it seems like the finickiest plant to keep alive! Is it your climate? (north Idaho here). I always either over/under water, this years seeds never even popped up, or they get too much/not enough sun. Please share your basil secrets!! I love basil and would love to know what to do to grow some in the summer or even as a potted plant (can you do that?)

    1. Elina I live in Eastern WA and grow basil all summer in a pot on my front porch. It gets all the morning sun but not the hotter afternoon sun. As soon as it starts trying to flower I pinch the flowers off and it just keeps on growing. I also give it a little shot of fertilizer twice during the summer when I fertilize my other plants. I have never tried planting from seed but can easily find little plants in my area for a dollar or two.

    2. Hey Elina! Basil should grow just fine in northern ID. I would suggest NOT planting from seed. Try buying a small basil plant, that will probably yield much better results for you. Pinch the leaves off just above new buds, and pinch often. You can definitely grow it in a pot. Make sure it gets water, but it will do well a little on the dry side so keep that in mind. Good luck!

  3. I am so excited about this. I make pesto all of the time, because its the best thing the world of green food ever created, but sometimes something lighter is better. Can’t wait to make some caprese salad with my garden tomatoes!

    Since you aren’t fully blending the dressing to keep the basil chunky, does the olive oil get mixed in enough or is this the kind of dressing you want to shake a bunch?

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