I never would have thought of combining cherries and basil for anything, but I came across a recipe last year that changed my mind. The original was for Cherry-Basil Soda but, really, it's a recipe for a simple syrup that you mix with club soda. I ended up making the syrup and adding it to some limeade that I made and everyone that tried it loved it.
A couple of notes:
1. The original calls for real sugar. I can't eat much sugar so I've substituted Splenda Baking Blend, which measures 1/2 Cup to each 1 Cup of sugar. I didn't use pure Splenda because I find that it doesn't work so well for macerating fruit. If you choose to use pure Splenda, remember that it measures 1 Cup for 1 Cup of sugar.
2. The syrup needs to sit overnight, at least 8 hours but longer is better, for the fruit to completely macerate and soak up the basil flavor.
Here is my adaptation to the recipe (see the link at the end of this note for the original):
2 Cups pitted fresh cherries
1/2 Cup Splenda Baking Blend
Handful of whole fresh basil leaves
1 Cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 10 limes)
1/2 Cup Splenda Baking Blend
1/2 Cup Cherry-Basil Syrup
Enough water to fill the rest of a 2-quart container
Sprig of basil for garnish
Setting up the syrup:
Combine the cherries, 1/2 Cup of the Splenda blend, and the handful of basil leaves in a large bowl. Stir (or toss with your hands if you don't mind getting them dirty) to completely coat the cherries and basil leaves with the sugar. (This is important so that they macerate well - the sugar will pull out the juices.) Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Making the syrup:
The next day, put the cherry mixture into a blender or food processor. There should be a beautiful syrup in the bottom of the bowl - be sure to include ALL of that yumminess in the blender. Blend until smooth then push the puree through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the cherry pulp. You now have cherry-basil syrup.
Making the limeade:
In a 2-quart pitcher, pour the fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1/2 Cup of the cherry-basil syrup, 1/2 Cup of Splenda Baking Blend and the sprig of basil. Stir to combine then add water to fill the pitcher. Pour into a tall glass of ice and enjoy!
- You may need to adjust the amount of Splenda you use in the final step, depending on how sweet or tart you like your limeade.
- This syrup also tastes good in iced green tea. (I make iced mint green tea by putting 4 bags of green tea and a large sprig of fresh mint into a 2-quart pitcher of water and letting it sit in the fridge for several hours).
Here's the link to the original Cherry-Basil Syrup recipe:
I'm considering trying some other fruit/herb combinations based on another website I found. Some of these might be good!
Strawberry & mint
Apricot & basil
Peach & basil
Raspberry & basil
Apricot & bay
Peach & bay
Apricot & lavender
Cranberry & lavender
Peach & lavender
Orange & mint
Cranberry & mint
Orange & rosemary
Apricot & sage
Cranberry & sage
Orange & tarragon
Orange & thyme
Cranberry & thyme
Peach & thyme
Here is the link where I found the Herb Pairing List: