I am such a huge fan of basil, but up until the last few years I’ve generally only really had it as part of savoury dishes. A jar of fresh basil pesto is always on the go in our house and we love our basil in pastas, mushroom dishes, even atop of our steaks or egg breakfasts! The growing trend for the addition of basil to desserts and sweet recipes gives this savoury herb and entire new element and balances the sweetness of fruits so delicately.

My first experience of this was actually breakfast…at one of my favourite beachside cafes I saw a yogurt and granola bowl with basil and just had to try it. I immediately fell in love with the combination of the tanginess of the greek yoghurt and the sweetness of the basil syrup…so much so that I have recreated this dish for myself and friends at a number of breakfasts and brunches I have hosted!

Since this time I have discovered a multitude of uses for this very simple (indeed!) syrup and have even extended the same recipe to other fruits and herbs such as figs, blackberries, raspberries, pomegranate, lavender, rose, honey, allspice, cinnamon, vanilla, mint, rosemary, thyme…anything you can think of really, just replace in the recipe below!

Tenacious Mama’s Basil Simple Syrup

~  Mix 1 Cup water to 1 Cup castor sugar and a handful of basil leaves (or whatever fruit/herb you like!)

~ Gently simmer over medium heat to dissolve sugar. Don’t let it go past a simmer as the sugar will harden and turn to toffee if gets too hot

~ Lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 mins (depending how strong you want the flavour, cook for longer for more intense flavour, especially if using fruits which aren’t as delicate as the basil leaves)

~ Once cool, strain the liquid and discard the leaves

~ Store syrup in an air tight jar for up to 6 weeks in the fridge (but seriously, it wont last that long!)

Add to your favourite yoghurt breakfast bowl, or spoon some mixture on top of fruit salad. You can even pour it over vanilla ice cream for a savoury yet sweet flavour, or use in a decadent dessert or a simple family favourite like this Summer Fruit Ice Cream Tart pictured above. Mix into to a glass of lemonade or kombucha for a refreshing beverage, or my absolute favourite use is definitely to in cocktails, like this gorgeous recipe…

Tenacious Mama’s Strawberry Basil Martini:

~ 1 part vodka, 1 park gin, 1 part basil simple syrup

~ Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime

~ Soda water

~ 3 fresh strawberries, roughly diced

~ 5 fresh basil leaves

Muddle strawberries, basil leaves and simple syrup in cocktail shaker, then add vodka, gin, lemon juice, ice and shake!

Strain into martini glasses, top with soda water and garnish with a fresh basil leaf and a strawberry on side of glass.

For an alternative to this recipe make some fig simple syrup for a delicious Figtini!

Bottoms up!

Nat xxx