Summer is the season of lemonade. And basil. And basil lemonade!
I have to admit, I didn't really get why people love lemonade in the summer until this year. It's just never been my thing. But last year, my mom gave me a huge stack of old cooking magazines, and when leafing through them for recipe inspiration I saw a recipe for basil lemonade. How amazing does that sound? Basically, you take two amazing components of a foodie's summer and smash them together into a refreshing and delicious beverage. And who doesn't like smashing things?
I made this recipe for my (somewhat) recent cooking demo at Natural Grocers in Fargo, and I've finally honed the recipe and photographed it. Hooray!
The temperatures in Fargo have steadily been creeping towards 100, and the humidity just won't. get. better. As much as I want to enjoy the fresh air when I'm chilling in my apartment, the thick stickiness of the air makes me eschew the outdoors and crank up the AC.
At the very least, I'm still enjoying the wonderful summer weather by enjoying the equally wonderful CrossFit WODs. /end sarcasm.
But really, I love going to CrossFit and getting my sweat on. Working out with the garage door open and the ability to run outside is awesome. Who cares that I'm already dripping sweat on the mat after the warm-up?
Seriously though, for those of you that live in a climate where you can workout outside year-round, be thankful. Very thankful.
Anyway, when the heat and humidity get exceptionally oppressive, homemade lemonade is a great option.
Of course, I'm not going to judge you for adding a shot of vodka. I certainly did.
I recently picked up 2Docks vodka, which is locally distilled by Proof Artisan Distillers. It's the first Fargo-based distillery, and they're just getting started - right now they have 2Docks vodka and Minions gin. It's been awesome to see a bunch of Fargo restaurants and liquor stores support Proof Distillers by carrying and using their liquors. That's one of the things I will always love about Fargo - the community embrace of everything local!
Yeah, yeah. I know alcohol isn't strict paleo. It's my life. Deal with it.
The only disappointment about this recipe is that I wasn't able to use my own basil. Since I now have a balcony, I knew I wanted to plant an herb garden. I started a little late in the season, but I now have an herb garden!
Unfortunately, it takes longer to grow plants than I thought. As a newbie gardener, I assumed I would just plant the seeds, pour some water on them, and sprouts would pop up overnight.
I mean, that's sort of what happens the first time you see a little shoot of green pushing out of the soil, but it certainly takes many days to get there!
So my basil is growing. But they're still little baby plants. And I wanted to make this lemonade. So I used store-bought, limp basil leaves. You can tell, I'm sure. Meh, I'm not perfect.
The key to this recipe is how long you let the basil leaves marinate in the lemonade. The longer, the better. I've made this lemonade and had the basil leaves soaking for only an hour. I've also let the basil leaves soak overnight. Obviously, overnight soaking produces much more basil flavor, and I definitely prefer that.
The takeaway - if you want better flavor, it's best to make this a day ahead of when you're planning to serve it.
- ½ c loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- ¼ c honey
- ½ c fresh lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
- 4 c cold water
- 4 c ice
- Basil sprigs (for garnish when serving - optional)
- Mash honey and fresh basil together (using a fork or a mortar and pestle) until a paste is formed. In a large container or pitcher, combine the basil/honey mixture, lemon juice, and cold water. Cover and store in the fridge for a couple hours or overnight - note that the longer it sets, the more basil flavor there will be when served.
- Strain the lemonade mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any solids (and the mushy basil).
- To serve, put 1 cup of ice into each of 4 glasses. Pour lemonade over the ice (about 1 cup each) and garnish with a fresh sprig of basil, if desired.