1 1/4 pounds nectarines (4 to 5), halved
1 cup plus 2 T. (9 fl oz) simple syrup
3 leafy sprigs basil, each about 6 inches long
2 T. (1 fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the nectarines cut side down on a cookie sheet, then roast until the skins and flesh have softened, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
While the nectarines cook, combine the simple syrup and basil in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and let rest while the leaves steep. Be careful not to simmer the mixture too long, because the simple syrup evaporates quickly, reducing the amount of liquid remaining. You want 1 c. of liquid to work with. Let cool.
Once the nectarines are cool enough to touch, remove and discard the the pits and whiz the nectarines, skins and all, in a food processor, though feel free to leave the puree somewhat chunky. You should have about 2 cups of puree.
Strain out the basil, squeezing it over the simple syrup to extract as much liquid as possible, and discard. Transfer the nectarines to a bowl or measuring pitcher with a pouring spout and add the syrup and lemon juice. Stir until the mixture is well-incorporated and taste. The flavor of basil should be solidly present against a sweet and wholesome nectarine backdrop.
Pour the mixture into your ice pop molds, leaving a little bit of room at the top for the mixture to expand. Insert sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours. Unmold and transfer to plastic bags for storage or serve at once.
Yield: 6; 70 calories.
VERDICT: I like the simplicity of the ingredient list, but wasn't overwhelmed by the result. It may be my own fault--I didn't end up with enough nectarine, so had to guess on the simple syrup--but toss, nonetheless.