Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Basil-Mint Sorbet

Nothing evokes the essence of summer like basil--you know that sudden wave of sunshine that washes over you in winter when you open a freezer bag of the pesto you made in August? This sorbet goes even further ... it's transporting, ambrosial; the mint and basil combine in a heavenly taste that opens eyes in surprise and conducts a symphony on the taste buds.

I discovered the recipe in Frances Mayes' admittedly hedonistic book about life in her Tuscan villa. I make it every time my friend Judy comes to visit from Maine. It's the kind of thing you need to eat with someone who also hears the music of the taste bud orchestra! Some people (you know who you are) refuse to try this dessert, saying it looks like pond scum. Their loss! More for us!

Depending on my mood and the state of the basil and mint plants, I sometimes greatly increase the amount of basil and mint. And sometimes I strain the blended herb liquid, but you don't need to.
Adapted from Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

3/4 cup sugar
3 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup mint leaves (or lots more)
1/2 cup basil leaves (or lots more)

Boil 1 cup water with the sugar for 5 minutes, stirring little if at all. Cool.

In blender, blend remaining two cups water with mint and basil leaves until thoroughly pureed. Add lemon juice and cooled sugar syrup, and chill well.

Freeze in ice cream freezer, or if you don't have one, use the ice-cube tray/repeated blendings method.

Serve in little bowls that you've put in the freezer for a while.

The sorbet is best made and frozen about 4 or 5 hours ahead of serving; long-term freezer storage hardens it.

Serves six or eight, depending on size of serving.

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