Got Basil? Drink it up!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

We still have plenty of sweet basil in the garden and most of the plants are flowering now. I enjoy listening to the hum of the bees as they buzz blissfully from one flower to the next.

I know that it won't be long now before this year's crop of basil fades into nothing but memories, so I've been trying to think of different ways to make good use of it while it lasts. Eventually, I'll make a batch of pesto to freeze for the winter, but for now, I want to use it fresh -- as much as possible.

Following my successful experiment with basil lemonade, I decided to invent a new basil drink. For this creation, I was inspired by food blogger Virginie over at Absolutely Green, who made a Peach & Basil Juice using nothing more than fresh peaches and basil, plus a little bit of water and sweetener. She herself was inspired by the gorgeous photo of the jus de pĂȘche au basilic on Roses et Poireaux.

My second source of inspiration was the Watermelon Sorbet with Wine Basil Gelee that I discovered at Epicurious. Although I haven't tried the recipe, it made me curious about the pairing of basil and watermelon. It sounded like a refreshing combination. So this week, when I had watermelon and basil on hand, I thought, why not invent a Basil & Watermelon Drink?

I cut and seeded several pieces of watermelon and added them to the food processor along with a few leaves of fresh basil. I didn't use any sugar because watermelon is so naturally sweet and I'm trying to cut down on the amount of refined sugar I eat. (Well, at least in theory I'm trying to cut down on it.)

Blend everything together and give it a taste. If you want more of the basil flavor, add more basil. If you want a thinner consistency, add a little water. Strain the juice through a sieve. Pour it over ice, and... Voila! The result is a refreshing and unique summer drink.

This is also a very nutritious drink. Watermelon is high in vitamin C and lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Basil is a good source of vitamin A, magnesium, iron and calcium. (Read more fascinating facts about the health benefits of basil here.)

I really enjoyed the combination of these two flavors. The savoriness of the basil cuts through the sweetness of the watermelon, and that makes this drink a real thirst-quencher. (I always find that overly-sweet drinks just make me more thirsty.)

Though I didn't try it this time around, I thought this pairing of flavors would also do well with the addition of cream, ice cream, or plain yogurt -- to make a creamy lassi-style drink.

This is my submission for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Genie, The Inadvertent Gardener. Visit her blog on Monday for a recap of other posts featuring herbs, fruits, flowers and vegetables.


Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

Great post!! I love the idea of this combination. I've always liked watermelon with salt, so the idea of a sweet/savory combination works for me.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Virginie said...

This gives me 2 nice ideas to enjoy watermelon : the first one with basil in a drink, the second one with salt. Thank you. I love watermelon and keep your idea for next summer.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait to try this. I have some seedless watermelon left over from the weekend gathering.

Great post!

7:56 PM  
Blogger Sury said...

Oh no. I wish you had posted this a little sooner. Watermelon has left us for this season and would return only next year. This drink looks wonderfully refreshing AND nutritious. I will see if I can still get hold of a watermelon. Got to try this. Thanks for sharing!

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

genius idea!

4:16 AM  

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