Surprised we're talking about food? Well, it's this ever increasing anticipation of warmer weather, combined with some newly sprouting basil seeds in our kitchen that got us daydreaming. So we thought we'd share our thoughts. Here is what we will be doing with our basil leaves when we're not just tossing them on a pizza. Or a salad.
And watch this space. Once we've done it, we will share how we've kept our basil plant alive for a really long time. Fingers crossed.
Because nothing says summer like a homemade lemonade. Feel a bit too much like a children's drink? Enter basil. It adds extra complexity and a great deal more summeriness. A wonderful alcoholfree drink for grownups. To which you can always add some gin if you like. Rest assured, not many children will secretly try to drink your slightly green drink, so it's quite safe. Make your usual lemonade, then add a sprig of basil and let it infuse for a light flavour. If you like it, you can gradually add more and even chop up the leaves for more intense basil notes.
Ice cream with strawberries and basil
Or strawberry ice cream with basil. Or basil ice cream. As long as there is ice cream (and basil), we are happy. You can drizzle a little balsamic reduction on top to raise your master chef credentials. The thing to remember here is that basil works wonderfully in a berry context. If you want to try your hand at making your own basil ice cream (and we really think you should!), here is a recipe to get you started from the lovely Cinnamon & Ginger food blog. Apparently it comes straight from Italy, so we should probably call it 'gelato'. But whatever you call it, it is sure to bring great joy to your next summery feast.
This may not be as unexpected as the title suggests, but bear with us. There is barely a herb as fragrant and fragile as basil, and its aroma can disappear in hot dishes. However, if you whizz it raw with some olive oil, garlic and cheese is guaranteed to wake up your taste buds. The key here is that the homemade version is so much more aromatic than a shop bought jar ever can be. And, psst, don't limit yourself to having it with pasta. Instead spread it liberally on anything else you can possibly get your hands on.
Basil vinegar from seeds
Ok, not strictly speaking from fresh leaves. Unless you play the long game by leaving some leaves on your plant and letting it go to seed, which you then collect and add to a nice white wine vinegar to infuse.
Basil infused butter
Have we heard of the butter revolution? Yes, we rejoice. Butter is back. In all shapes (well, blocks and sticks, mostly) and guises. That means that flavoured butter has also moved on from the old classic garlic butter. Adding herbs like fresh basil to a slab of gorgeous butter will elevate the flavour to no end. Trust us, you wont want any cheese on your crackers once you've tried this.