The hottest month of summer is the prize time for every gardeners fresh basil. There are a whole lot of different flavorful varieties of basil like lime, lemon and cinnamon just to name a few. Basil is extremely easy to grow and loves the heat and sunshine. The plants make a beautiful display in the landscape and will do quite well in pots. Give basil nice well draining soil and let them dry out a bit in between watering. they are quite drought tolerant so if you happen to find them wilted a bit just give them a good soaking and they will bounce right back.
Basil is also one of the herbs that have a rich and colorful history. In Mexico the native women use fresh cut cinnamon basil flowers to fill vases that graced their tables. It is said that the basil will help deter the flies away from your dinner. I've found that when I combine the basil with cloves and citrus peel in a simmering pot it not only helps with flies but aids as an aromatic natural air freshener.
Basil also has some of the highest nutrient values of all the herbs. It is said to be very high in vitamins A and K and a rich source of iron. The compounds derived from basil leaves are said to have many disease preventing and health promoting properties. It is suppose to be good for your vision, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
The lemon basil I use to make these muffins smells like fresh lemon drop hard candy when picked straight out of the garden. Combine the lemon basil with fresh homemade strawberry preserves and you have the essence of the summer garden at hand.
2 1/2 cups organic unbleached flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar (or cut in half to use organic raw cane sugar or local honey)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 egg (organic free range or farm fresh is best)
3/4 cup organic buttermilk
2/3 cup organic expeller pressed sunflower oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 tbsp. homemade strawberry preserves (can substitute with fresh or frozen organic strawberries) or a good quality organic strawberry preserve.
1/4 cup fresh Lemon Basil leaves (chopped) or flowers stripped from stems
1/2 to 1 cup of your choice of either unsalted raw organic sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or nuts. (amount depends on desired crunchiness)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rack should be in center of oven. This recipe made 20 muffins. I used baking cups in my muffin pans.
In a large bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, lemon zest and juice and vanilla extract. Add the strawberry preserves, Lemon Basil and oil to this mixture.
In another large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Whisk it to mix it well. Add in the sunflower seeds. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and mix only until well combined. Over mixing will cause the batter to become to tough.
Fill each baking cup almost full. Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Check by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean they are done.
Place on a wire rack to cool.
If you don't have buttermilk you can make your own by adding one tablespoon of lemon juice or white wine vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for about 5 minute and you will have instant buttermilk.
This recipe has been featured on: Old-Fashioned Fridays