I’ve been buying giant bunches of basil from the farmers market. At $1.50 a bunch I feel fine buying it without plan or purpose, trusting that I’ll manage to use most of it before it goes bad.
Trimmed and put in a jar of water on the counter, it stays fresh a week or so, as long as it’s not too tightly packed. Maybe it’s a little less perky than it would be in the fridge, but seeing it all the time means I remember to use it, pulling off leaves as I need them. Everything is better with basil, including your favorite summer fruit.
Also, sometimes the basil grows roots, and then I have free basil plants for the garden. (This is also how I got the lemongrass growing in my front yard and the spearmint currently creeping across the back yard.)
So what do you do with a bunch of basil the size of your head? Fruit salad. No, really. You know the thing where you slice a bunch of summer tomatoes, toss them with shredded basil leaves and chunks of feta, and drizzle olive oil over the whole thing? It’s even better with watermelon. Also good with strawberries or peaches.
On the savory side, a handful of basil leaves works in pretty much any salad, pasta dish, grain bowl, or sandwich. When it starts to wilt, whirl the remaining leaves in the food processor with some olive oil and garlic. Dip your bread in it, put it on your eggs, stir it into a bowl of beans, use it to top minestrone or gazpacho.
Then plant any stems that have sprouted, wash the jar, and head to the farmers market for a new bunch.