This week for #5days5ways it’s BASIL! Sweet basil, how I wish I could be lulled by your summer scent all year. If you’re a gardener or giving it a go this summer, basil is one of the most satisfying seeds to plant. It isn’t fussy for attention, and is one of the first herbs to brighten the soil with its tender green leaves. Don’t be fooled, it will quickly become a bush and you’ll run out of ice trays for stocking up on pesto well before October!
Now this recipe truly has a Frisch Twist! I was hooked on the thought of mango lassis, a refreshing yogurt-based drink served in India. My eyes also twinkle at the site of sun-orange and grass green on the same plate, and I began to wonder if the flavors of mango and basil dance as beautifully as their colors. So I tried it, and the results were devastatingly good.
This recipe could not be easier, and I decided to make it dairy-free (on account of running out of yogurt) by substituting my milk base with coconut milk. Hey, it’s a superfood, so I’m not complaining! This is the perfect morning drink to start your day with an energetic, refreshing boost. Pair this with Emma Silverman’s Quick Morning Yoga Warm-Up and you’ll be glowing!
Or, have this for a healthy, crowd-pleasing dessert, spiked with a splash of rum and a sprinkle of toasted pistachios.
Basil for growing gardeners
If you’re striving desperately to be a guilt-free gardener like I am this year, just start simple. Start with basil, and watch it grow. You can order seeds for freebie from Groundswell International, an organization I helped co-found while living in Ecuador. They are planting seeds of change every day. I cannot say enough praise about the work they do to support small-scale family farmers in the U.S and around the world. (Read “6 Questions with Emma Frisch” to hear more about how I became involved with Groundswell and my recommendations for anyone looking to be a part of their local food movement.)
How to store basil
Basil likes water and shrivels from the cold. Keep basil stems in a small cup of water on the kitchen counter, preferably near light. It will last much longer, and maybe even start to grow roots and grow! If you put it in the fridge, the leaves will begin to blacken and the flavor and aroma will be dampened by the cold.
How to cook with basil
Basil is delicate and must be treated gently. It doesn’t like to be chopped – that also kills the flavor and turns the leaves from green to brown. If you want to use small pieces of basil in your dish, tear it with your hands. Otherwise, use the leaves whole to flavor sauces and make simple syrup (recipe below).
Here’s a great short video on how to cut a mango!
Don’t forget to suck the pulp from the mango seed! It’s worth getting mango stuck in your teeth :).
The basil in this drink comes in the form of Basil Simply Syrup, which is essentially basil leaves steeped in sugar water. It's a marvelous thing to have on-hand in your refrigerator. We add it to sparkling water with lemon for a refreshing drink, or mix it with gin and muddled blueberries for cocktails. It would also be heavenly poured over coconut ice cream!
- Basil Simple Syrup:
- Basil - 2 handfuls, fresh
- Organic cane sugar - 1 cup
- Water - 1 cup
- Mango - 2 whole fruits
- Coconut milk - 2 (13.5 ounce) can
- Lime - 2
- Honey - 2 tablespoons
- Pistachios - Optional
- Basil Simple Syrup:
- Strip the basil leaves from the stems.
- In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring it to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the simple syrup boils, remove it from the hot stovetop.
- Add the basil leaves to the simple syrup, submerging them in the liquid. Cover with a lid. Steep for as little as 15 minutes, or as long as 1 hour (the flavor grows stronger with time).
- Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or colander, or, remove the leaves with your hands and squeeze out the syrup. Store in a jar in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Basil, Mango & Coconut Lassi
- Remove the mango skins and then remove the fruit from the big, giant seed and add them to a food processor (or large bowl if you are using an immersion blender).
- Add the coconut milk, freshly squeezed lime juice from the 1 lime and honey to the food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Add 1/4 cup of the basil simple syrup and blend again. (You can add more for a stronger flavor).
- Optional: for garnish, toast the pistachios and then chop them coarsely to sprinkle on top.