Holy Basil Batman!

Proof that CSAs offer the most unique opportunities to discover new things, I was introduced to Tulsi basil, commonly known as Holy basil, when my CSA, Rare Earth Farm, dropped off a plant starter at the beginning of the season.

What I found instantly remarkable is how rubbing the leaves of this basil brought to mind the sweet smell of Juicy Fruit gum.

But Juicy Fruit gum is a far cry from how Tulsi basil is thought of in India, its country of origin.  There, Tulsi basil is believed to have medicinal and spiritual properties and is revered for those qualities; its place of honor is second only to the Lotus flower.

If planted, Hindu’s believe it bestows divine protection in the home. For those who embrace the ancient health practice of Ayurveda, Tulsi basil is consumed as a tea for its positive effects on the immune system.

Visually it is a stunning herb. It develops purple candle-like flowers as it goes into seed and sports duller, rougher, and thicker leaves than its thinner skinned, greasier sheened Italian cousins, Genovese, and Napoletano.

Since this little beauty was delivered, I have been thinking of ways to showcase its flavor and aroma. Certainly it would work well anywhere one might use Italian basil varieties. But, rather than going the traditional savory route, I wanted to highlight its fragrantly sweet aroma. Using our humid and hot days as inspiration, I gravitated to the Pineapple-Basil Sorbet recipe from Daniel Boulud’s Cafe Boulud Cookbook.

Using basil in this sorbet heightens the flavor compounds of the pineapple, without overpowering them. It tampers down the potentially cloying tang, and tart sweetness of the pineapple by introducing a dimension of depth to for the palate to anchor itself to. While I can’t claim pineapple-basil sorbet offers any immune protection, I do believe as it slowly melts on your tongue you will be thinking restorative thoughts.

Holy Basil Pineapple Sorbet

1 fresh pineapple

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Tulsi basil (other basil will work too)

2/3 cup water

  1. Peel, cut, remove the core from the pineapple and cut into chunks. Place the prepared pineapple into a blender and puree until completely smooth.
  2. Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer. Measure out 2 cups of puree and reserve.
  3. Combine the sugar, basil and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for about 15 minutes. This will infuse the simple syrup with basil flavor.
  4. After infusing, strain the syrup into a bowl and allow it to reach room temperature. When at room temperature stir in the reserved pineapple puree. From this point, you can continue on or cover the mixture with plastic wrap lightly pressed against the surface, and refrigerate.
  5. Using an ice cream maker, according to directions, freeze the mixture. After it is churned to the desired texture, scrape the sorbet into a container, cover it, and put it in the freezer for at least an hour to firm before serving.

Note: 1 pineapple will likely offer up 3 cups of puree, might want to adjust the recipe to use it all.

Makes about 1-1/2 pints