Lemon Basil Panna Cotta with Cherries Recipe

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A big opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons made itself known last Saturday at the Boulder Farmers’ Market. While helping a customer, Eric Skokan realized that a large tub of what he thought was globe basil contained lemon basil.

Globe basil is a lot like the Genovese basil with which most people are familiar. It is similar in taste but has small leaves that are shaped differently. Globe basil is perfect for restaurants where the leaves can be easily stripped and added to dishes. In contrast, the larger leaves of Genovese basil sometimes require chopping after stripping. Lemon basil doesn’t taste like either. As might be expected, lemon basil has a strong lemony taste with an herbal under current.

Examining his seed order, Eric discovered that he ordered a lot of globe basil seeds but received lemon basil seeds instead. So, instead of the yield from a large planting of globe basil, he will be harvesting a large amount of lemon basil all summer.

As the positive opportunist he is, Eric started to get excited about how to use lemon basil. A friend had dropped off some of the season’s first cherries from the Western Slope for snacking. The pairing of lemon basil and cherries immediately came to Eric. When we asked him for a recipe, he combined the two with the panna cotta recipe in his upcoming new cookbook, “Farm, Fork, Food: A Year of Spectacular Recipes Inspired by Black Cat Farm.” The cookbook will be published on October 7th and is now available for pre-order from Amazon.com and the Barnes and Noble Web site.

Ingredients

4 cups of lemon basil, packed
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 sheets gelatin
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 pound sweet red cherries
Light neutral-tasting oil, like grapeseed oil

1. Lightly oil 8 four-ounce ramekins or other serving dishes.
2. Transfer 2 cups lemon basil to a blender with the milk and 4 ice cubes. Puree until the mixture is very smooth. Strain into a large bowl.
3. In a medium saucepan, add the heavy cream, 3/4 cups of sugar, and gelatin sheets to the saucepan. Apply medium heat just until the sugar and gelatin sheets dissolve.
4. Pour the cream mixture into the bowl with the lemon basil puree. Stir well to combine and add a pinch of salt.
5. Pour the panna cotta mixture into the ramekins or other serving dishes. Transfer the filled containers to the refrigerator to chill and set until firm, which typically takes two hours.
6. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil. Pour the syrup over 1 cup of lemon basil in a medium heat-proof bowl. Let the mixture steep.
7. Wash and pit the cherries. Transfer them to a medium bowl.
8. Strain the simple syrup with the lemon basil leaves. Pour it over the cherries and macerate for 20 minutes.
9. Pluck the leaves of the remaining 1 cup of lemon basil.
10. Remove the panna cotta from the refrigerator to unmold the panna cotta onto plates. 11. Test unmolding one container by turning it upside down and tapping the bottom and sides. If it doesn’t easily unmold, fill a bowl with hot water and briefly dunk the bottoms and sides of each container in the water for 15 to 30 seconds to loosen the panna cotta.
12. Once the panna cotta is unmolded, spoon the macerated cherries over the panna cotta and place it around the base also. Sprinkle the leaves on the panna cotta.

The Digital Flora Karnataka photo by Herbarium JCB is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://florakarnataka.ces.iisc.ernet.in.