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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Citrus and Basil Sangria

We had dinner at Foodie’s house last week and she made the most delicious chicken marinated in coconut milk and a bunch of other stuff…so good, as usual.   BUT, I was immediately charmed and distracted by the opening act, a mouth-watering drink that sat in a serving tray on her counter suggesting that our little group would be the lucky recipients of the colorful concoction.

She made Citrus and Basil Sangria from the blog “What’s Gaby Cooking.”  In the post, the blogger explains how she is experimenting with drinks to be served at her impending nuptials and this drink is one of the contenders.

So, I’m reading through the recipe and I asked myself “what the hell is Cara Cara?”  My extensive research a google search reveals that Cara Cara is a type of seedless navel orange grown in California's San Joaquin Valley.  They have a familiar orange skin, but the meat of the orange is a beautiful pinkish red and is delightfully sweet with a hint of cranberry zing.  The name comes from where the orange was first discovered at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela.  I tried to find these little lovelies in several stores but to no avail, but I found a photo on google images.  

As you can see, this recipe calls for two different types of oranges, as well as a lemon, a tangelo, the juice of a tangerine and blood orange soda – San Pellegrino makes a tasty version – so this drink is a citrus explosion.  If you can’t find or don’t have the specific varieties, any citrus fruit will do, but do not skip the strawberries….they add a nice flavor and make the drink so pretty!

Citrus and Basil Sangria
Ingredients
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
10 basil leaves
1 bottle sauvignon blanc
1 blood orange, sliced into thin rounds
1 Cara Cara, sliced into thin rounds
1 tangelo, sliced into thin rounds
1 handful strawberries, sliced
1 lemon, skin peeled into strips and added - save juice for another use
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup blood orange Italian soda
1/4 cup tangerine juice

In a small saucepan combine the water and sugar over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat off and add the basil leaves. Stir the simple syrup to combine and let the basil leaves sit for 20 minutes while the mixture cools.  Meanwhile, in a large pitcher, combine the white wine, Italian soda, citrus slices, strawberries, lemon skin, brandy and tangerine juice. Stir to combine. Add the cooled basil simple syrup and stir. Let the sangria sit for about 1 hour and then serve over ice.

This is a perfect and pretty drink for summer get-togethers.  Be careful, though, don’t let all that fruit fool you….it packs a nice punch!

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