Basil - Lemon

Quick Facts

Type: Herb
Availability: May-August
Flavor: mild, fresh flavor
Quantity: Bunch
Use: Consumed raw or cooked
Grown:  Field
Grown by: ISU Horticulture Research Station- Student Intern

Storage and Preparation

Short Term Storage: Fresh basil should be stored at room temperature.  Trim the ends of the stems of the basil.  Place them in a glass jar filled with cold water (much like a fresh flower bouquet). Place a plastic bag loosely (still allowing for ventilation) over the basil leaves at the top of the jar.
Long Term Storage: Basil leaves can be dried or frozen.  To dry leaves, tie in bunches and hang indoors in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight.  Leaves should dry in 5-10 days.  Leaves can also be dried in the oven.  Set oven temperature to lowest possible setting.  Place basil leaves on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Place cookie sheet in the oven with the door ajar to allow ventilation.  Keep leaves in oven until brittle.  If leaves turn brown, this means that they became too hot in the drying process and will not have flavor so should be discarded.  Once leaves are dry, store them in an air tight container for up to 6 months.  Basil can be frozen easily to preserve flavor and color.  Chop basil leaves finely and combine with water making a paste.  Pour paste into ice cube trays to store. Once the cubes are frozen solid, place them in plastic bag in fridge.  Basil cubes can keep for up to 1 year.  Alternatively, combine basil with oil (olive or vegetable) in a food processor to make a paste and pour paste into ice cube trays for later use. 
Preparation: Wash leaves under cool running water to remove dirt and pat dry before cooking or eating.

Pairings and Nutrition

Pairing: Lemon basil is commonly used in Thai and Indonesian cuisine.  Lemon basil has a fresh lemon scent and flavor.  It pairs great with almost all vegetables, chicken or seafood.  Lemon basil as a fresh twist on the classic herb and provides an interesting combination of flavors.
Nutrition: Basil is very low in calories and high in vitamin K.


Lemon Basil Recipes

Lemon-Basil Butter Cookies
  • 1 cup fresh lemon-basil leaves
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • Garnish: fresh basil sprigs
  1. Process basil and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor until blended.
  2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, beating well.
  3. Add lemon juice and egg, beating until blended. Gradually add flour and basil mixture, beating until blended.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, and place 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.
  5. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Garnish, if desired.

Lemon Basil Shrimp Risotto
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1-1/2 pound Shrimp
  • 1 whole Onion, Finely Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 1 cup Dry White Wine
  • 5 cups Vegetable Broth, Heated (give Or Take)
  • 1 whole Lemon, Zested And Juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
  • 18 whole lemon- Basil Leaves, Chopped Plus Extra For Serving
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese For Sprinkling
  1. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook both sides until opaque in the middle, about 3 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and chop roughly. Set aside.
  2. Return the skillet to the stovetop (do not wash it) and add the onion and garlic. Stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until onion starts to turn translucent.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add dry Arborio rice to the pan and stir it around for a couple of minutes, taking care not to burn it.
  4. Pour in wine and stir gently, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid. After the wine is absorbed, begin adding warm broth 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time, allowing the rice to cook and absorb the liquid each time. Stir occasionally as you go, and add the salt and pepper during one of the broth additions.
  5. After 4 cups of broth have been absorbed, taste the rice. It should have a slight bite, but if it seems undercooked, add additional broth and cook it until it absorbs until the risotto is the perfect doneness.
  6. Zest and juice the lemon and add both the zest and the juice to the risotto toward the end of cooking. Stir in the heavy cream, the basil, and shrimp and serve immediately with extra lemon zest and Parmesan cheese on top.