Summer gardens are brimming with the fruits of labor.
A friend gave me a bushel of lemon basil from their garden. The scent of lemon basil is so refreshing, one whiff and you are transported to peace and serenity. Did you know that basil is more than just the main ingredient in pesto, but it contains many healing properties? The eugenol component of basil's volatile oils has been the subject of extensive study, since this substance can block the activity of an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase (COX). This enzyme-inhibiting effect of the eugenol in basil qualifies basil as an "anti-inflammatory" food that can provide important healing benefits along with symptomatic relief for individuals with inflammatory health problems like rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel conditions.
Creativity is needed when you receive such a large amount of lemon basil; here are a few quick serving ideas:
** Combine fresh chopped basil with garlic and olive oil to make a dairy-free variety of pesto that can top a variety of dishes including pasta, salmon and whole wheat brushetta.
** Enjoy a taste of Italy by layering fresh basil leaves over tomato slices and mozzarella cheese; drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to create this traditional colorful and delicious salad.
** Adding basil to healthy stir-fries, especially those that include eggplant, cabbage, chili peppers, tofu and cashew nuts will give them a Thai flair.
** Purée basil, olive oil and onions in a food processor or blender and add to tomato soups.
** Enjoy a warm cup of invigorating basil tea by infusing chopped basil leaves in boiling water for eight minutes.
Not only is basil plentiful, but so are the strawberries.
Nothing refreshes like a fruity granita on a hot summer afternoon. This Strawberry Granita is a favorite and easy to make.
Fresh Snow Capped Strawberry Granita
1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
8 teaspoons heavy cream 1
Wash, hull, and slice the strawberries. Place sliced strawberries in a large bowl. Toss the strawberries with the sugar; let stand for at least one hour at room temperature, or up to four hours in the refrigerator. The strawberries will be very juicy.
Puree the strawberries their juices and the lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Process until crushed. Working in batches, press the puree through a fine sieve to extracts seeds. Pour
Pour mixture into a bowl or large tub; ideally the mix should be no deeper than about 1 inch. Freeze until solid, at least 1 hour.
Remove from freezer 5 minutes before serving. Using a sturdy scoop or spoon mound granite into goblets and cap each wth a trickle of cream. The cream will solidify, semi frozen, like a snowcap on a pink mountain. Serve quickly before has time to melt
** Granita looks fantastic if served in wine or martini glasses. Moisten rims of 6 martini or wine glasses with water; dip rims into some sugar, and then add the granita. This recipe was inspired by a post in deliciousliving.com