Let me paint you a picture, it is the peak of European summer and we are staying slap bang in the middle of what I can only describe as paradise on earth! AKA the Cinque Terre.
Our accommodation is in the heart of Monterosso al Mare in a local families attic on the 6th terrace of an apartment block. Incredible views, beautiful family and amazing food!
It was our second day on the Ligurian coast, the sun was beaming and my husband and I just had to get out exploring some of the back paths and trails up into the mountains and terraced farms and vineyards. We spent a good four hours meandering up tracks and climbing make shift steps in complete awe of this amazing town and community.
By the time we got back, we were sticky with sweat and in need of much refreshment, so we wandered down toward our favourite gelateria to grab an ice cold drink and a gelato. It was on our trek down to the gelateria that we stumbled across ‘The Pesto Lab‘.
Now, I know I’ve mentioned ‘The Pesto Lab‘ in previous posts, but I must say, this place had the most incredible basil products I have ever tried. If you ever find yourself wandering the gorgeous streets and laneways of Monterosso, you really should find it.
We stopped in out of curiosity, as a green bottle with the words ‘Basilichito’ caught my eye. We wandered in and discoverd that ‘Basilichito’ is a carbonated drink, much like any other soda, only flavoured with basil. Of course I had to try it, so we purchased a bottle, along with a Limonata and continued on our way.
The first sip of this incredible beverage had me stopped in my tracks. The flavour was nothing like I expected and so much more at the same time.
It was here in this moment that I knew I needed to find ways to incorporate basil into my sweet repertoire.
Fast forward a few years and we returned to Monterosso for a long weekend, my first destination of choice, ‘The Pesto Lab’ to grab a couple of bottles of Basilichito to tuck away in my luggage.
Sadly, Basilichito was no longer being stocked and my basil soda dreams came to a grinding halt. I spent the next couple of hours checking every shop we entered to see if the basil soda might appear, but alas it did not.
We then decided to head up to Corniglia, a little town far above the water on the Cinque Terre. It was here that a new basil dream came true, in a little gelateria near the main square called Gelateria Corniglia. Basilico e Limone gelato shone through the glass cabinet like a beacon and the certificate/award on the wall for said gelato confirmed that it must be tried.
I did try it, and it was glorious!
So, I spent summer playing with various basil combinations and came up with the glorious combination of white nectarine and basil.
I really hope you love it as much as I do and embrace the herby goodness that is basil!
GELATO ALLA NETTARINA E BASILICO
600g white nectarine flesh, roughly chopped
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 cups basil leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Natural green food dye (optional)
1. Roughly chop the white nectarine flesh and place in a bowl, sprinkle over the sugar and mix until well combined. Let the mixture sit for about an hour, or until the liquid in the nectarine has dissolved the sugar particles.
2. Add the vanilla bean paste, lemon juice and basil leaves to the nectarine mixture and blitz with a stick blender until smooth (or you could pour into a food processor and blend until smooth). The mixture will be a yellowy green colour, you can add the natural green food dye at this stage, until the mixture is more of a basil green, but it is not necessary (I added around 1/2 tsp natural green food dye to mine).
3. Pour the mixture into an ice cream churner/mixer and let it do its’ magic!
4. Scrape out the mixture once it is churned into delicious gelato and place in an airtight container in the freezer.
5. Enjoy generous scoops with fresh slices of nectarine or scoop into waffle cones and devour! Mangiamo!