As late summer slowly shifts to fall, it’s important to care for our digestion. With cold mornings and warm days, it can be challenging to strike a balance between eating warm and cooling foods. Basil offers a healthy solution: it brings balance during this seasonal change and helps the body prepare for colder weather.

Basil is packed full of health benefits, helping to support a healthy microbial balance, soothe muscle discomforts, calm common digestive discomforts and more. It contains orientin and vicenin, two water-soluble flavonoids, which both support healthy white blood cells and protect cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage. Basil’s volatile oils, which contain estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene, help keep bacterial growth  in check.

For centuries, basil has been a staple ingredient of traditional cuisine across South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Its fragrance is both soothing and stimulating. Hindu culture uses basil in purification ceremonies and Voodoo tradition includes it in divination rituals.

Here are two recipes to both preserve basil for the winter months and to savor it with late summer foods.

Simple Pesto

You will need:

  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • 1⁄4 cup pumpkin OR sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt


  1. Place basil, seeds, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil in a food processor.
  2. Make a coarse pesto and enjoy over starchy vegetables (roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes) or mixed with your favorite whole grain. It is easy to freeze in ice cube trays or jelly jars.

Collard, Quinoa and Delicata Squash Pilaf with Pesto

You will need:

  • 2 delicata squash
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1⁄2 cup red onion
  • Pesto (see recipe above)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Rinse the squash and cut it in half lengthwise.
  3. Remove the seeds.
  4. Slice the squash crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces. They will look like little smiles.
  5. Place them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and toss to combine.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Roast the squash for about 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through the cooking time.
  8. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa. Place 1 cup of dry quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
  9. Fluff with a fork, remove from heat, and set aside.
  10. Dice the onion.
  11. Heat olive oil in the bottom of a deep skillet and sauté onion for 2 to 3 minutes.
  12. Chop collard greens and add them to the skillet. Sauté 5 minutes more. Sprinkle with sesame sizzle. Remove from heat and place in a large serving bowl.
  13. Once squash is roasted, add it to the serving bowl.
  14. Add the cooked quinoa and toss everything together gently. Make the pesto by following the recipe above.

Toss the vegetables and quinoa with pesto and enjoy!

Grieve, Magdalene. A Modern Herbal. Dover, 1971.

Writer Lisa Mase is a culinary medicine coach, food writer, translator, and folk herbalist living in Vermont. For articles and recipes, visit Lisa at

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.