When life hands you lemon basil…make lemonade. Toss in some fresh berries, and now you’ve got something special.
I grew two varieties of basil in my garden this year – sweet basil and lemon basil. The later is less common and often associated with Thai cuisine. The leaves are smaller and a lighter hue than standard sweet basil. What I adore about this herb is the fresh citrus scent when you rub a few leaves between your fingers…heavenly…and not so overpowering as the scent of traditional basil (don’t get me wrong – I love that, too).
So back to the lemonade. It was the last weekend of summer before school starts, and among the swimsuits, snorkels, and other cabin necessities, I packed a handful of lemons, a carton of strawberries, and a bunch of fresh-picked lemon basil.
The weekend was spent playing cards, playing volleyball (with the laundry line serving as a makeshift net), tubing on the lake, and enjoying an end of summer jam session on our neighbor’s deck that included a delicious potluck and even a piñata for the kids.
The highlight of the weekend was watching a float plane take off from the lake and swoop over our heads as we sat in the tube.
And, when we arrived back at the dock, a monarch butterfly was resting on my older son’s sandals, soaking up the late summer sun on the dock.
Just like the butterfly, we soaked up every last bit of summer on our last official cabin weekend.
Strawberry Lemonade with Lemon Basil
1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
5 small to medium lemons
3 cups water
Begin by making a simple syrup: Combine 1 cup water and the sugar in a small saucepan. Whisking often, bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Remove 2 Tablespoons of zest from lemons and add to a pitcher. Juice the lemons, being careful to remove any seeds, and add juice to pitcher.
Coarsely chop berries with a knife, then add to chopper (I used my mini prep food processor). Toss in a small handful of basil leaves and turn on chopper for a few seconds until berries and basil are finely chopped but still a bit chunky. Scrape into pitcher.
Finish by adding 3 cups of water and the simple syrup to the pitcher. Stir and refrigerate for flavors to blend a bit before serving. Serve over ice in glasses garnished with extra berry and lemon slices.