july 24, 2015
Last weekend, lemonade stands were manned by kids and their families across central Virginia under the Anthem LemonAid program to benefit local pediatric cancer treatment centers. My buddy and neighbor Sam operated a stand in front of our neighborhood market Little House Green Grocery and netted a tidy pile of funds for VCU Medical Center’s pediatric oncology program. Yay, Sammy!
The tart-sweet beverage was a refreshing treat on a sweltering summer day and donations went directly to the cause, and hopefully, for the cure. Kids deserve a carefree existence and good health. It warms my heart to see children learn the value of helping others. Yay, Sam’s parents Kate and Matt!
Here’s a grownup version of lemonade which is tasty over ice and even more delicious as a cocktail base. Add it to iced tea for a tropical Arnold Palmer, and freeze it for a slushy summer treat. My basil has been chipper this summer with weekly doses of organic fish fertilizer (I grow mine in deck pots and nutrients become scarce with frequent waterings) and while it is lush I look to culinary inspiration beyond the usual pesto and soups.
You want to use coconut milk beverage and not the culinary coconut milk in a can. You could, of course, use the canned coconut milk for an extra creamy treat, but the tartness of the lemon may be overwhelmed. Basil simple syrup keeps for weeks in the fridge. It becomes a dark, burnished copper colored liquid which would also give your iced tea an exotic boost. Once the three components of the lemonade are mixed, some separation will occur after it is refrigerated , but a good shake or whisk will fix that.
Lest you think this lemonade is only for the adult palate, know this : Sammy says it rocks.
Coconut Basil Lemonade
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
one cup each water and cane sugar
two cups loosely packed chopped fresh basil, leaves and tender stems
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
32 ounces unsweetened coconut milk beverage (not culinary coconut milk)
- For basil simple syrup, bring water and sugar to boil, stirring until sugar is melted; gently simmer for one minute.
- Add basil leaves, cool to room temperature and refrigerate at least six hours or overnight.
- Strain syrup; you can discard the leaves or keep them to add to iced tea.
- Store syrup in the fridge until ready to mix lemonade; syrup keeps for several weeks.
- In large mixing bowl, gently whisk coconut milk with lemon juice and basil simple syrup.
- Strain mixture through a fine mesh and chill well; better, have all ingredients well chilled before mixing and use immediately.
- For Coconut Basil Lemonade Cocktail : add ice cubes to a 10 ounce glass, add 2 ounces of your favorite alcohol base (white rum or tequila both taste great with this mix), top with the lemonade and give a few good stirs.