It's that time -- that moment in summer when gardens everywhere are bursting with a bright green explosion and the heady, sweet scent of basil. Think that basil is just for pesto and Italian foods? You're wrong! Called "The King of Herbs", basil has a versatile and surprising flavor that can be incorporated in a million different ways. (Not that we don't love a delicious, fresh Caprese salad now and then!)
Icy Basil Lemonade
This one is from my own kitchen -- I've been making it once a week all summer. Some people are skeptical at first, but everyone is converted as soon as they take a sip! The the bright green leaves also look beautiful floating in a glass pitcher with the yellow lemon wheels.
6-8 ripe lemons
8-10 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup superfine sugar, adding more to taste. (Substitute honey, agave nectar or stevia if desired)
Ice and filtered water
Juice all but one of your lemons (I roll them on the table before cutting to really get the juices flowing). Add sugar and stir thoroughly until dissolved. Add a few scoops of ice and fill with cold filtered water. Taste, add more sugar or lemon juice as needed -- I like mine on the tart side. Slice your last lemon into wheels and drop into pitcher, along with your basil leaves. Stir. Let sit for at least 30 minutes for the basil to infuse. Serve over ice. Note: I always remove the basil after 1 day as they can wilt overnight -- but the yummy flavor remains!
Basil Infused Olive Oil
Here's a great way to make your fresh basil work for you in a whole different way! (from foodnetwork.com)
1 bunch fresh basil
1 cup pure olive oil
Tear the leaves off of the basil and place in a blender with the olive oil. Puree until smooth. Pour mixture into a large saucepan or skillet and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a sterilized airtight jar or bottle. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 week.
Basil Dill Coleslaw
This recipe takes a summer classic -- ordinary coleslaw -- to a new level!
6 cups shredded cabbage
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons snipped fresh dill, divided
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons half-and-half cream
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
In a serving bowl, combine the cabbage, basil and dill. In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients until blended. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving. The possibilities really are endless when it comes to basil! What are your favorite basil recipes?