Everyone I know with a basil plant has an abundance of basil right now. It seems that the hot summer days encourage these plants to grow and grow. One of my coworkers has brought me big bouquets of basil, which she puts on a vase on my desk. The aroma of the basil is amazing. I will take a bouquet of basil over a bouquet of flowers any day! The first few times she brought me some basil, I made pesto. But the last time she brought me the biggest bouquet ever I wanted to try something new. So I reached out to my tweeps on twitter and @FeastWithBron recommended making basil oil. And I am so grateful for the idea! The basil oil is divine on fresh tomatoes and in salad dressing. It is also great for dipping crusty slices of baguette.
That same day this article came out on the Washington Post, with a recipe for Basil Lemon Buttermilk ice cream. I had been wondering about basil ice cream for a while, but thought it was going to taste too green and herb-y. I was wrong! The flavor is delicious. And it is perfect paired with the tartness of the buttermilk, the fresh citrus taste of the lemon, and the taste and aroma of vanilla beans (yes, I added one vanilla bean to the recipe).
So if you have an overabundance of basil, or find big bunches of it at the farmers market, I hope you give either of these recipes a try. You will not be disappointed.
Basil Oil, adapted from Feast With Bron
2 cups olive oil (preferably one that is fruity/peppery)
2 cups basil leaves
6 dried spicy peppers
*Note: You could add 1 tablespoon red chili flakes if you want the oil to be spicy, and strain these at the end.
1. In a medium saucepan, add all the ingredients and warm over low heat until tiny bubbles appear at the edges of the pan. Heat the oil for about 5 minutes at this low temperature, stirring once in a while.
2. Turn heat off. Let basil oil cool in saucepan.
3. Strain to remove the basil leaves and peppers. Set the peppers aside. Press on the basil leaves to extract all oil from them. Store the basil oil in a glass container and add in the peppers.
Basil Lemon Buttermilk Ice Cream With Vanilla Bean, recipe adapted from the Washington Post
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 cups half and half
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped
¾ cup basil leaves (or 1 cup lemon basil)
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cup buttermilk
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until light yellow and creamy.
2. In a medium saucepan, place the half and half, vanilla bean and seeds, and basil leaves. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes.
3. Strain mixture to remove the basil leaves and vanilla bean. Discard basil. Rinse and dry vanilla bean and store for another use. Add in the buttermilk and lemon peel.
4. Add in the half and half mixture into the eggs mixture slowly and whisking constantly.
5. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium low heat until the mixture has thickened slightly. Note that the mixture will not thicken as much as a regular ice cream custard.
6. Strain the ice cream custard into a container, and refrigerate overnight.
7. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.