Kripalu Lavender Iced Tea: The Secret Recipe

A few weeks ago I had the best iced tea of my life.  Lavender iced tea to be exact. Sweet, cold, and refreshing, it sat unpretentiously all day in a plain stainless steel dispenser in the communal dining room at Kripalu in Lenox, MA. http://www.kripalu.org/  After three or four glasses at lunch, I skipped the afternoon yoga class for which I had registered to sneak downstairs to the gift shop to try to find the recipe in one of their cookbooks. No luck. Returning home that night with neither the recipe nor the benefit of the relaxing afternoon yoga class, I immediately logged on to my computer to search for the recipe. (I know…I’m obsessive about these things.)  Again, no luck. (Probably bad karma for skipping the yoga.)  I did, however, find a recipe for lavender honey.   Here’s how I made an awfully close version of the Kripalu tea.

LAVENDER ICED TEA

1. Make the lavender honey. Warm one cup of honey (I use local honey) in a small pot on top of the stove. Do not let boil. Add 2 TBS of dried culinary lavender buds. Let sit on very low heat for 15-30 minutes depending on how strong a lavender flavor you like. Strain out the buds.

2. Make the iced tea.  I used 5 plain black tea bags to a pitcher of boiling water. While the bags were steeping, I added a large handful of fresh mint, including the stems, and half a large lemon, squeezed and then put into the pitcher, rind and all.  When fully steeped, remove the bags, mint and lemon.

3. While the tea is still hot, and THIS IS IMPORTANT, add the lavender honey to taste.  Otherwise, the honey will sit as a solid mass in the bottom of the pitcher–a very frustrating situation from which even yoga will not save you.  Stir and let cool.

Note: Any extra lavender honey is sublime spread on warm biscuits or scones!

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Presto Pesto! (And healthy too!)

With still a huge bouquet of basil left from last Sunday’s farmers’ market, I thought of making another batch of pesto, a family favorite around here. (I have two “World Famous” recipes in my repertoire (self-proclaimed, sadly).   Pesto is one of them.  The other is my bolognese sauce, but I won’t divulge that one until at least the first bite of winter!

But having gorged all summer long on enough butter and cheese from pesto to last a lifetime (okay, maybe only until next summer), I decided to make a lighter version which is not only lower in fat, but dairy-free as well.  Best of all, it comes together in less than half the time of the usual pesto, since there is no sauteing (in butter) of pine nuts and no shredding of big cheese chunks.  Oops…I may have given away the secret of my W.F. pesto recipe…

Here’s the light version:

Ingredients:

1 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 cups EVOO
10 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and dried*, no stems
4-6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
salt to taste, about 1 teaspoon

Method:

1.  Preheat a small skillet over low heat.  Add pine nuts and lightly brown by shaking the pan and stirring the nuts, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to let them burn.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Add all ingredients to food processor or blender.  Puree until desired consistency, either chunky or smooth or somewhere in-between.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of pesto.  It can be stored for about 5 days in the fridge.

* A salad spinner works well to dry the leaves.