Two Herbal Citrus Summer Refreshers

IMG_6963 (3)When I picked up my share this week Paul (friend and farmer at Potter Hill) handed me two bunches each of lemon basil and holy basil and said “Here is your challenge for the week!” Apparently a lot of his customers aren’t sure what to do with these wonderfully fragrant herbs, so challenge accepted! My go-to preparation takes advantage of each of their unique flavors to make quick, but impressive summer refreshers: lemonade and limeade. These aren’t sugar packed, pucker-inducing ades, but truly refreshing summer beverages. They are easily adapted with different herbs, like mint and lemon verbena, or even heartier herbs like thyme and rosemary (for those I would scale back to ¼ cup). For a drink more like a soda use seltzer in place of the water, or turn them into cocktails by adding some gin or vodka. 

My entire share this week was the basils, lettuce mix, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, bok choy, fresh onions, and a bunch of carrots. The cherry tomatoes and bok choy went into a tofu curry from Melissa Clark’s Dinner (a very similar recipe is here). I used the zucchini and peppers in this wonderful, summery pasta with fried lemons (lemon basil would be great here too). The remaining peppers and onions were sauteed and served atop cheddar grits with some Short Creek poblano and cheddar sausage. The carrots are about to go into an Indian stir fry with coconut from Vegetarian India to be paired with dal.

Still looking for basil ideas? Summer rolls are one of my favorite hot weather meals, especially when paired with peanut sauce. Holy basil is an essential ingredient in classic Thai chicken stir fry Pad Kra Pao. Or give your pesto a twist by using lemon basil. And don’t forget to serve a refresher alongside!

Lemon Basil Lemonade

Serves 4

Adapted from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison.

  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup lemon basil (regular basil can be substituted)
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups water

In the bottom of a pitcher muddle the lemon zest, sugar, and lemon basil until the basil is very fragrant, but the leaves are still intact. Add the lemon juice and water and stir to combine (make sure all the sugar isn’t sitting on the bottom). Chill for at least 30 minutes, and strain to serve.

Holy Basil Ginger Limeade

Serves 4

Adapted from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison.

  • zest from 2 limes
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup holy basil (regular basil or Thai basil can be substituted)
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (peel before grating)
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 4 cups water

In the bottom of a pitcher muddle the lime zest, sugar, holy basil, and grated ginger until the basil is very fragrant, but the leaves are still intact. Add the lime juice and water and stir to combine (make sure all the sugar isn’t sitting on the bottom). Chill for at least 30 minutes, and strain to serve.

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