Eli Cooks

Lemon Basil Frozen Yogurt with Grilled Nectarines
August 18, 2008, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Dessert | Tags: , , , ,

Let me start off by saying that I do not in any way endorse, like, respect or eat run-of-the-mill commercial frozen yogurt.  If it’s trying to taste like ice cream, chances are I’m not going to like it.  Because, face it, frozen yogurt just doesn’t taste like ice cream.  HOWEVER, if you just let it be what it is, frozen yogurt is great.  I love the light, tangy flavor of good frozen yogurt.

Lemon basil yogurt with grilled nectarine

So why am I pointing this out? Until recently when I had a scoop of key lime frozen yogurt from my favorite gelato place* I would have immediately skipped right past a recipe for frozen yogurt. If you’re a fan of sweet-tart desserts, definitely give this a try…even if you’re sure you hate frozen yogurt.

lemon basil

This week’s CSA box included a lovely bunch of lemon basil. I spent a few days getting it out of the fridge just to smell it, and making everyone who came into my house smell it too. It has a lovely herbal lemony scent, almost like lemongrass or sorrel, with just enough anise-y basil in the background to provide a solid, grounding basenote for the lemon.

yogurt with basil syrup

I knew immediately that I wanted to do something that would allow the lemon basil to shine, instead of relegating it to a supporting role. At first I thought I might make a sweet tomato sorbet (from some of the lovely tomatoes in the CSA box) and a lemon basil syrup to accompany it, but my mother in law is visiting and she convinced me we should just eat the tomatoes out of hand…not that it took a lot of convincing. (I still might try the tomato sorbet though. The idea’s kinda stuck in my head in a way that makes me doubt I’ll be able to dislodge it until I’ve tried it.) I’m not sure how exactly I decided to do a frozen yogurt, but I did, and I’m glad. It turned out beautifully.

lemon basil frozen yogurt

I had a few friends over for an informal dinner out on the grill, so I grilled a few nectarines to go with the frozen yogurt for dessert. Even after stuffing ourselves with grilled bread, corn and pork cutlets, we still almost polished off the whole batch of frozen yogurt at one sitting.

* Yes, I know the site is horrible…but the gelato’s good. And hey, there are worse things than a gelateria with a bad website.
Lemon Basil Frozen Yogurt

The thicker consistency of the yogurt base (vs an ice cream base) makes the final product lusciously creamy, even when made in a small, cheapish electric ice cream maker.

3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup packed lemon basil leaves
2 1/2 cups Greek-style whole milk yogurt

Put the sugar in a small pan and cover with water. Heat over high until the sugar is dissolved, then about 5 more minutes. You want to cook out most of the water, but stop short of the soft ball stage (about 200 F, give or take.) In the meantime, put the basil leaves in a blender. When the sugar is cooked, pour it over the basil leaves and blend until the basil is finely chopped and the syrup is green. (In my less-than-ideal blender, I left it to whir for about 5 minutes.)

Put the yogurt in a bowl and strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve onto the yogurt, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Whisk the yogurt and basil syrup together, then chill for a few hours until cold. Freeze according to the directions on your ice cream maker, then toss in the freezer for a few hours to firm up.

Grilled Nectarines

Note: You need to use fully ripe nectarines for this recipe. If they’re not ripe, there’s nothing added to save the flavor or add sweetness. Also, if you have a grill with a wide grate, you’ll probably want to use a grill pan to keep the nectarines from falling through

Some nectarines, halves and pitted

Grill the nectarines over medium to high heat, until hot and cooked through, but not mushy, about 5 – 10 min. Turn the nectarines once during cooking to get a nice browning on both sides. That’s it. Nothing more needed.


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