All things have a season. In this case, we’re talking about basil! If you are lucky enough to have a giant basil plant at the end of the summer, it won’t last long as the weather starts to turn colder.
During a recent visit by Joey to Michele’s riverside Pennsylvania home, a large behemoth of a basil plant came into focus. What to do with all that basil at the end of summer? After some happy experimentation and a couple of tasty mis-steps along the way (hint: basil turns brown when you muddle it for drinks!), we have some answers!
Here are two recipes plus a link to a Basil and Lemon-Infused Panna Cotta recipe from the past to help you with that basil problem. Celebrate the end of summer with a light and tasty ricotta cheesecake; fix yourself a refreshing basil-infused vodka & tonic and enjoy!
Joe and MichelePrint
Use up that end-of-summer basil in a delicious, creamy ricotta cheesecake!
For the crust:
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 4 tsp. melted butter
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
For the cheesecake:
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup basil leaves, packed
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 15-ounce containers whole milk ricotta (or 30 ounces fresh whole milk ricotta)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 lemons to make candied lemon slices (optional)
- 1 cup sugar
- Confectioner’s sugar (optional)
Prepare the crust:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan. Wrap the outside in foil to prevent any leaks. In a small bowl, mix together the almond flour, melted butter and brown sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.
Prepare the filling:
Get out your food processor and 2 large bowls. Separate the eggs. Place the egg yolks in the bowl of the food processor and the egg whites in one of the large bowls. Add the basil leaves to the egg yolks. Process the mixture until the egg yolks are light yellow and the basil becomes small flecks within the mixture. Add in the sugar and vanilla and process until the mixture is thick, about 1 minutes. Add in the ricotta and lemon zest and process until smooth. Place the mixture in the empty large bowl.
Using a hand mixture, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the ricotta mixture. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top with a spatula.
Bake until the cheesecake is golden brown and set, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
While the cheesecake is baking, make the candied lemon slices. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the lemons into thin slices, approximately 1/4 inch. Remove seeds. In a large saucepan, stir together 1 cup of water and 1 cup sugar. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to a simmer and add lemon slices in a single layer. Simmer until the white portion of the lemon becomes translucent about 15 minutes, flipping gently a few times. Remove and allow to cool on a baking sheet.
To serve, remove the cake from the springform pan. Set on a serving dish. Use lemon slices to decorate the top of the cheesecake and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Enjoy!
If you like vodka and tonic drinks, this is something you should try while fresh basil is still available in your garden or farmer’s market.
- 16 oz vodka (we used Tito’s Vodka)
- 1 cup loose basil leaves, reserving 4 attractive leaves, trim off steam but be careful not to bruise the basil leaves as they will brown
- Tonic water
- 2 slices of lemon
- In a mason jar, add the basil and push to the bottom being careful not to crush
- Add the vodka, seal the jar and let it rest in a cool place for 3 days – shake occasionally as you remember
- When the vodka is ready and nice and green, set out 2 low ball glasses
- Now everyone likes a different mix of liquor to mixer so, changing to your liking, add to each glass:
- Add 2 oz of vodka – remove the basil leaves from the jar and reserve the remaining vodka for another time
- Add 4 oz of tonic water
- Add ice cubes to fill and then stir
- Garish with 2 basil leaves and 1 lemon slice per glass
- A 16 oz mason jar with lid and ring