Lemon basil plants combine both these amazing scents and flavors for a unique herb experience. This variety is easy to grow provided you have plenty of sun and heat.
It is also a pretty plant that adds dimension and texture to the kitchen garden.
Harvest the leaves at any time, just leave at least half on the plant so it can continue to grow and produce more leaves. Pinch off flowers for best flavor, but if you leave them on, the aroma can help repel many insect pests.
Here are a few things you can do with lemon basil:
- Stir-Fry with Lemon Basil: Try adding a big handful of the whole leaves to a favorite stir-fry just before you take it out of the pan. The basil sets off spicy dishes, pork, seafood and most vegetables.
- Lemon Basil-Infused Grilled Chicken: Butterfly a chicken, rub it all over with crushed garlic, ginger and oil if you'd like. Then cover the bottom of a shallow dish with half of your big bunch of lemon basil. Spread the chicken over it and cover the bird with more basil, saving about 1 cup of leaves for the chicken glaze. Rub the basil into the bird's surface. Lightly cover and refrigerate overnight. To cook, slow roast on the grill or in the oven. During the last 30 minutes, glaze the chicken by brushing with a pureé of 1 cup basil leaves, 3 tablespoons sugar, a seeded and minced Thai chile, the juice of a lemon and 1/3 cup canola oil.
- Lemon Basil Snap Beans: All through the summer and fall we eat these with our fingers with drinks. The simplicity is belying; the beans showcase the basil brilliantly. Boil yellow "green" beans in salted water until tender (just beyond tender-crisp). Drain and rinse with cold water to stop their cooking. Turn the beans into bowl and keep them at room temperature up to 3 hours. When you're ready to eat, toss the beans with a generous amount of coarse salt and 1 cup of lemon basil leaves for every 1/2 pound of beans. Enjoy them at room temperature.