Refreshing Summer Drinks

Basil is a nice addition to plenty of easy cocktails: add a torn leaf or two to your gin and tonic, or tap a little into the bottom of a mojito. But these drinks are a change of pace from the classic and the ordinary that feature the fresh green flavor of this herb, and are just right for summer sipping.

Honey-Basil Lemonade

Honey-Basil Lemonade Recipe

 

This simple lemonade combines fresh basil with a touch of honey.

Makes 1 Quart, Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh juice from 10 to 12 lemons
1/2 cup honey
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
Pinch salt
3 cups cold water
1 quart ice
Basil leaves for garnish

Directions:
Combine lemon juice, honey, basil leaves, and salt in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Discard solids. Add cold water and whisk to combine. Add ice. Serve in ice-filled glasses garnished with basil leaves.

Cucumber and Basil Slush Cocktail

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(Photo Credit : Kelly Carámbula, Serious Eats, 2012)

As temperatures and humidity rise, having some frozen drinks in your arsenal becomes more and more essential. This one offers double-cooling action with loads of ice and a soothing cucumber in the mix, plus fresh lime and basil. Vodka’s an easy partner that won’t dominate the flavor—try Karlsson’s Gold, which has a slightly floral side and rich texture—but if you prefer another spirit, feel free to experiment.

Makes 2 cocktails

Ingredients:
1 kirby cucumber, sliced
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup basil leaves
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup water
3 1/2 cups ice
Garnish: cucumber slice

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in the blender. Using the ice crush setting, blend until all the ingredients are even and finely chopped, about 30 seconds.

Pour the slush into a glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice and a straw.

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Hello, June!

Hello , June!

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Basil  (Ocimum basilicum), “king of herbs” also called great basil or Saint-Joseph’s-wort, is a culinary herb of the family Lamiaceae (mints)and is this month’s featured ingredient.

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The name of this tender plant,  derives it’s name from Greek βασιλικόν φυτόν (basilikón phutón), meaning “royal/kingly plant” , and rightly so, given its prominence in Mediterranean and especially Italian cooking, as well as the cuisines of India and Southeast Asia. While it can be found in the markets year round, it’s especially well-suited to summery dishes, and even works as a lovely partner with summer fruits, such as peaches and watermelons. You can also substitute basil where you might find cilantro – a great thing for those with an aversion to the taste of cilantro.

So make sure you stop by you local farmer’s market for a fresh bunch of basil!

 


Saveur Magazine’s 2015 Summer Produce Guide

Summer is a great time of year to be a cook. Markets and gardens are bursting with gorgeous fruits and vegetables in their prime: sweet corn, juicy ripe tomatoes, jewel-like berries, and many, many more. In our comprehensive guide to summer produce, we’ve got expert tips for buying, storing, and preparing the best of the season, plus recipes for everything from warm cherry and blueberry cobbler to watermelon salad with cilantro, radish sprouts, and Cotija cheese.

For the full  2015 Summer Produce Guide, click here for the link.

All photos: Vanessa Rees, Saveuer Magazine

Salad Greens

What would summer be without the sweet crunch of lettuces and salad greens? An essential addition to tacos and sandwiches and the foundation of salads from Caesar to Cobb, the innumerable varieties of lettuce lend crispness to all kinds of summer dishes. They vary widely in flavor and texture: Iceberg lettuce, for example, has a sweet, watery crunch that’s at home in a wedge salad with blue cheese; crisp romaine is ideal for adding to sandwiches; watercress has a bright, peppery flavor; and mizuna, a Japanese member of the mustard family, has a gentle spicy zing.

Stone Fruits

Available in the U.S. from late May to early October, peaches, plums, apricots, and nectarines are among the most delectable of summer’s stone fruits, so-called because they contain a stone, or pit, at the center that encases the seed. We love to eat them out of hand, of course, but they’re also delightful in an abundance of sweet and savory recipes: think green bean and peach salad, nectarine and plum chicken tagine, stone fruit rosé sangria, and irresistible pies and cobblers.

Herbs

Herbs

While many are available year-round from the grocery store, summer brings abundant fresh herbs that thrive in hot weather, such as basil, rosemary, and thyme, to the farmers’ market. You can use fresh herbs in innumerable ways for every type of dish: Add them to marinades, throw them into salads, purée them into pesto and toss with pasta or vegetables, and use them to infuse oils or even flavor ice creams.