Tag Archives: basil

Summertime Herbal Recipes

I recently made some herbal recipes that celebrate summer, in spite of the 100+ degree temps. Inspired by the herbs that are thriving in my garden right now, I went online and researched recipes. I found these awesome recipes and tweaked a couple to enhance the flavors with my herbs. Consider these easy recipes for your summer celebrations.

apricot-goat-cheese_eatbreathegardenJennifer’s Apricot Basil Goat Cheese Spread

I recently attended a wine tasting at my friend Jennifer’s house, and she served up this delicious fruity cheese spread with crackers. And oh my, though I typically am not a fan of goat cheese, this fruity treatment made this appetizer so YUMMY.

Goat cheese
Chopped dried apricots
Apricot preserves
Chopped almonds
Finely chopped basil

Top goat cheese with dried apricots, apricot preserves, and almonds to taste. Sprinkle with basil. Serve with butter crackers.

Strawberry-basil-lemonade_eatbreathegarden
Strawberries and basil leaves steep in simple syrup – preparing to be made into Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

In the summertime, it can be refreshing to drink a tall glass of sweet lemonade. Or, add mint to ice water or tea for a nice cool drink. But here’s a different twist on lemonade. You might be thinking – basil in lemonade? Though the flavors may not seem to complement each other, this recipe has a subtle undertone of basil with the strawberries and lemon juice balancing out the flavors. Quite yummy.

Make a simple syrup on the stovetop. (Note: when making the simple syrup, I cut the two cups down to 1.5 cups and thought it tasted just lovely.) Then steep the strawberries and basil leaves in the warm simple syrup for about 30 minutes or until cooled. Strain out the strawberry and basil pulp. Add lemon juice, cold water, and ice. Serve chilled with lemon slices.

Check out the complete strawberry basil lemonade recipe from Paula Deen at FoodNetwork.com.

Strawberry-mint-sorbet_eatbreathegardenStrawberry Mint Sorbet

Any form of ice cream, popsicle, or sorbet makes for a cool summer treat. I love this sorbet recipe that features mint and strawberries, with a twist of lime. Puree strawberries and a handful of mint leaves in a blender or food processor. Make a simple syrup of lemon juice, juice of one lime, sugar, vanilla, and water on the stovetop. Combine the puree and simple syrup together and chill in the fridge for several hours. Then add the mixture to your favorite ice cream machine and stir until it is a frozen or semi-solid consistency. (I used my electric ice cream machine according to manufacturer instructions.) Transfer to a separate container and put in the freezer. Serve frozen. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the strawberry sorbet recipe at Eating Well.

berries-and-mint_eatbreathegardenBerries and Mint

Prepare your favorite berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc – in a bowl. Add chopped mint leaves and the juice of one lime. Stir together and serve.

rosemary-crackers_eatbreathegardenRosemary Crackers

When using rosemary in any recipe, a little goes a looooonnnnngggg way. And this cheesy crispy cracker recipe incorporates rosemary just right. Ingredients include parmesan cheese, flour, butter, cream (I subbed milk), pepper, cayenne, salt blended together in a food processor. Roll out the dough and cut crackers to size. Bake them on a cookie sheet and eat them hot right out of the oven. Easy peasy!

Check out this rosemary and pepper crackers recipe by Valerie Bertinelli at FoodNetwork.com.

Rosemary-skewers_eatbreathegardenGrape Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella on Rosemary Skewers

Cut rosemary stems six- to eight-inches long off the plant. Strip the the leaves off most of the stem, leaving one end with one- to two-inches of leaves intact. Skewer tomatoes and fresh mozzarella bites (I like the mozzarella pearls for ease of use) onto the rosemary stems. Then top tomatoes and mozzarella with balsamic vinegar and serve. Easy way to add pizzazz to your serving table.

lemon-thyme-vinaigrette_eatbreathegardenLemon Thyme Vinaigrette

My favorite little reliable herb, lemon thyme is planted along the edge of retaining wall and has slowly filled in the crevices of the wall over time. The little leaves are fun to use in adding a zest to this vinaigrette recipe. Shake together lemon thyme leaves, honey, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a mason jar, and then add olive oil and shake well. Serve on your favorite greens.

Check out this lemon thyme vinaigrette recipe at Little B Cooks.

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Herbal Recipes: Pineapple Sage, Lavender, Basil, & Lemon Verbena

Woohoo! The trees have leafed out. Though the cherry trees, tulips, daffodils, and forsythia have already finished blooming, the azaleas, iris, and hardy gerbera daisies have started flowering. I have even taken my first two trips to my favorite garden center, scouring for my top picks of herbs, veggies, annuals, and other cool plants for my garden.

Some of the first plants I look out for in the spring are lemon verbena, basil, lavender, and pineapple sage, among others. I plant these in my own garden, as well as in the gardens I help plant in my therapeutic horticulture programs. Every time I walk past them, I can’t help but reach out and touch their leaves, and then smell the fragrance transferred to my fingers. Every time.

Plus, I love how they attract pollinators to the garden throughout the warm growing season. In fact, I often say that if it wasn’t for the pineapple sage, my two hummingbird friends would never have sought refuge in my garden.

With all this excitement at the beginning of the warm growing season, I look forward to a favorite activity that incorporates the use of herbs for culinary and other purposes. Recently, I invited the volunteers who assist me with my therapeutic horticulture programs over to my house for a “Thank You and Did I Say That I Appreciate You So Much?” lunch. (Did I say just how much I appreciate my volunteers? Well, let’s just say that it is A LOT.) I displayed potted plants of these four herbs and then we ate a dish featuring that herb. I will share these recipes (and links to their inspiration) below. At the end of lunch, the volunteers got to take home a tray with a 4″ pot of each of the four herbs, plus a bonus coleus for added ‘thanks’ and a container of pineapple sage salsa.

This makes for a great activity with therapeutic horticulture groups and can be replicated and delivered in a variety of ways year-round. Participants can be actively involved in the growing of the herbs – from seed to harvest – and recipe preparation.

Before doing any food-related programs, always ask ahead to see if it is ok for participants to make and sample food. Some facilities have dietary and other restrictions.

Pineapple_SagePineapple Sage
Salvia elegans is a perennial hardy to USDA Zones 8 to 11 or can be grown as an annual. It grows two to three feet tall in one season and has beautiful red flower spikes in late summer to fall. California’s Mountain Valley Growers appropriately calls pineapple sage a “hummingbird highway” for hummingbirds’ attraction to the red flowers. When rubbed, the green leaves produce a pineapple scent. The flowers and the leaves are edible and can be used to flavor salsas and drinks and make floral sugars.

Apr2015 083Pineapple Sage Salsa
Large handful of Pineapple sage leaves, washed
8-10 Roma tomatoes
1 red onion
1 red, yellow, or green bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 can of pineapple (you can use canned crushed pineapple – no dicing necessary – or fresh pineapple too)
1 lime
Tortilla chips

Dice tomatoes, onion, peppers, and pineapple and mix together in a bowl. Rough cut pineapple sage leaves and add to mixture. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice over the salsa. Serve with chips or other dipper. (This would also be yummy served on top of chicken or fish.)

Recipe based on Nat’s Pineapple Sage Salsa from Sweet Valley Herbs.

Basil
There are so many varieties of basil (Ocimum basilicum) out there – Mrs. Burns’ lemon basil, lime basil, cinnamon basil, purple leafed basil, (the ball shaped) boxwood basil, Thai basil, and the straight-up Genovese sweet basil, among many others. I love the variegated Pesto Perpetuo – though I can NEVER find it for sale locally. It has a green-creamy white variegation that ornamentally looks great in a mixed border and is also good for culinary use. Check out this link at Hobby Farms to find uses for 10 varieties of basil. With the recipes below, I used Genovese basil.

Apr2015 069To-mozza-basil Salad (Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil Salad)

Generous handful of sweet basil leaves, washed
1-2 container(s) of red cherry tomatoes, washed (You can also use large tomatoes and slice them)
1-2 container(s) of yellow cherry tomatoes, washed (I like to encourage the eating of a variety of colors. Check out Prevention’s comparison of the health benefits of yellow vs red tomatoes)
8 oz package of fresh mozzarella “pearls” (You can also slice or tear apart a larger wedge of fresh mozzarella.)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine red and yellow tomatoes and mozzarella pearls in a bowl. Rough cut basil leaves and add to mixture. Add balsamic vinegar and olive oil and mix well. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow vinegar and oil to infuse into the mixture. Or serve immediately.

Recipe based on Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Salad at Food.com.

Apr2015 052Compound Basil Butter

2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
Handful of sweet basil leaves
Handful of parsley
2-3 sprigs of oregano
1-2 garlic cloves
1 t onion powder
Bread or pita chips
Parchment paper

Add softened butter to a mixer bowl. Finely cut basil, parsley, and oregano and add to bowl. Mince garlic and add to bowl. Add onion powder. Turn on mixer and combine well. Apply butter mixture to bread or chips and enjoy. To store, spoon butter mixture onto parchment paper and roll into a cylinder shape. Secure ends by twisting parchment paper to close. Refrigerate when not in use.

Recipe inspired by DIY Herb Butter at Sisters Saving Cents.

Lemon_VerbenaLemon Verbena
There are several herbs that have lemon scented foliage, including lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon grass, and lemon scented geranium. For therapeutic horticulture programs, it would be fun to do a lemon scented plant centered program and have participants discover the variety of plants that offer their own version of lemon fragrance. One favorite, lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora), is an annual with lemon-scented leaves and delicate white flowers. It grows to about 18 inches tall. I grow it in pots during the warm season – then in late fall, cut it back and bring it indoors to overwinter. Next spring, bring it outside and watch it leaf out. It can be used to flavor salsas, floral sugars, baked goods, cold desserts, and drinks.

Apr2015 131Lemon Verbena Fizz

1 cup sugar (Reduce amount to 1/2 cup if desired)
1 cup water
Handful of lemon verbena leaves
1 lemon
Sparking water
Ice

To create the lemon verbena simple syrup (shown in above photo), combine sugar and water in a small pan over medium high heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add lemon verbena leaves to simple syrup mixture and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain simple syrup mixture and discard lemon verbena. Add the juice of one lemon to the syrup.

Fill glasses with ice – I made ice cubes by filling ice cube trays with water and then adding lemon verbena leaves before freezing. Pour 3-4 tablespoons (or a shot glass worth) of the simple syrup over the ice. Fill glass rest of way with sparkling water. Optional, rub lemon verbena leaves on the rim of the glass and add lemon slices to glass before drinking. Enjoy a light and refreshing drink!

Recipe inspired by Herbal Sodas recipe from Martha Stewart.

Lavender2Lavender
Oh, lavender, how sweet you are! There are so many therapeutic programming opportunities for lavender (Lavandula) – sachets, herbal spritzers, handmade spa products – and it is also edible. I buy edible dried lavender buds (which has been processed for consumption) at the natural food market and use this for culinary purposes. I also buy bulk lavender buds online for the other aforementioned uses. When growing lavender, I have had the most success with fernleaf lavender (L. multifida, annual) and ‘Goodwin Creek’ lavender (tender perennial), over any of the other options available. That may be different in other areas of the country (and with different gardeners).

Apr2015 034Lavender Lemon Sorbet
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
3 T dried lavender buds
Juice from approximately 15 lemons

To create the lavender simple syrup, combine sugar and water in a small pan over medium high heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add lavender buds to simple syrup mixture and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain simple syrup mixture and discard lavender. Combine lemon juice and 2.5 cups of the lavender simple syrup. Refrigerate.

Add lavender simple syrup / lemon juice mixture to ice cream machine. Turn on and run for 30 minutes. Then scoop sorbet mixture into container and freeze for about two hours. Enjoy!

Lavender simple syrup recipe and Lavender Lemon Sorbet recipe inspired by Cuisinart.

Bonus Plates

Apr2015 098Bowl Full of Berries, with Mint

Apr2015 123Edible Flowers and Greens Salad (Did you know that pansies have a slight root beer taste?)