Fresh Basil 3 Ways
2013 basil.jpg

A lot of recipes out there demonstrate how to make a dish that will be big enough for a family, group or party. The way my life is though, most of the time I'm looking for something fast and easy to make throughout the week for myself, or at the most, the two of us. I'll often do some prep on Sunday - whether that's just chopping/cutting individual ingredients or grilling veggies to have throughout the week. I wanted to take advantage of things that are at their peak right now - Basil, Watermelon & Strawberries. 

Seedless watermelon (I didn't grow)

Seedless watermelon (I didn't grow)

This first recipe, Watermelon Salad with Basil & Feta fits the bill for easy weeknight assembly. I cut up the watermelon, red onion and squeezed out some lime juice ahead of time. Then, when I'm ready to make/eat the salad, I pick basil off the plant. This keeps things as fresh and as easy as possible to make when I need a healthy meal after a long day at work.

The other recipes below, Watermelon Basil Cooler & Strawberry, Rhubarb & Basil Prosecco, are also easy to make. They're very refreshing cocktails for summer. Enjoy while the ingredients are at their peak.


Watermelon Salad with Basil & Feta

Watermelon Salad with Basil & Feta

Watermelon Salad with Basil & Feta

Ingredients (for individual portion)

  • 5 oz fresh watermelon, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp chopped red onion
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade
  • 3/4 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 TBSP crumbled Feta
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • pinch of black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine watermelon, red onion & basil
  2. Pour in lime juice & olive oil
  3. Add Feta crumbles
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Toss together

Watermelon Basil Cooler

Watermelon Basil Cooler

Watermelon Basil Cooler

Ingredients

  • Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup of crushed watermelon
  • 2 tsp white sugar (or a packet of Splenda if you don't want sugar)
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 1 oz vodka (leave this out for a "virgin" cocktail)
  • 2 oz tonic water
  • Crushed ice

Directions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle together the lemon juice, watermelon, sugar and basil leaves.
  2. Add vodka to the shaker with a couple of ice cubes. 
  3. Shake it up.
  4. Add tonic to the shaker and stir (it's bubbly, so don't shake the heck out of it; stir it). Put the top/strainer back on the shaker.
  5. Pour the mixture into a tumbler filled with crushed ice.
  6. String some cubes of watermelon on a cocktail straw and put the stem of a basil cluster in the top of the straw for garnish.

Strawberry, Rhubarb & Basil Prosecco

Strawberry, Rhubarb & Basil Prosecco

Strawberry, Rhubarb & Basil Prosecco

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz of Rhubarb Simple Syrup
  • 4 small strawberries, quartered
  • 4 basil leaves

Directions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle together simple syrup, strawberries and basil.
  2. Add an ice cube to the shaker and shake it up. (This is optional, but I wanted my mixture chilled.)
  3. Pour 3/4 oz of the muddled mixture into a champagne glass and fill the remainder of the glass with your favorite Prosecco.
  4. Enjoy!


I used Morris Kitchen Rhubarb Syrup. Made in Brooklyn, but found in our wine store in NJ.

I used Morris Kitchen Rhubarb Syrup. Made in Brooklyn, but found in our wine store in NJ.

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine