This Saturday, my mother and I purchased four small basil plants from the ever-cheery Scott at Garden to Be—the classic Genovese basil, commonly used in pesto; the gorgeous Purple basil with large, ruffled leaves; the small-leafed Spicy Globe basil which packs an intense punch of flavor; and the burgundy-stemmed Thai basil, redolent of sweet licorice.
Personally, once summer introduces its first leaves of basil to the farmers market, I snatch up as much of the heavenly herb as my overflowing tote bag can carry, then throw it in just about every dish at home. You can multiply any meal’s flavor profile with a handful of chiffonaded basil: leafy green salads, grain and bean salads, tofu and tempeh marinades, stir-fries, hummus, and oodles more. My family adores a superbly simple mix of basil, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, thinly sliced red onion, a splash of red wine vinegar, and a drizzle of olive oil—a popular summer dish in Italy.
Recently, I considered employing basil in sweet rather than savory culinary applications, first introduced to this notion by Jac and Jenn’s Basil Banana Bread. My mind wandered to smoothies—I often include herbs such as cilantro and parsley in my morning beverages; why not throw basil into the rotation?
Careful not to overpower the basil’s subtle spicy-sweet tang, I chose rather mild-flavored fruits and added a cucumber to accentuate the refreshing quality of the basil. Crisp, clean, and with a playful hint of mysterious herbiness, this smoothie provides a perfect breakfast to wake you up.
Blueberry Basil Smoothie (Raw, Soy Free, Oil Free, Nut Free)
- 1 medium banana, frozen and sliced
- 1 small cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 avocado, pitted and peeled
- 1/4 cup basil, torn into pieces
- Generous handful of spinach (baby spinach is preferable)
- 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 1/2-3/4 cup coconut water
Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth.
Comment-Provoking Questions: What is your favorite herb? Do you often throw herbs into smoothies? Do you plant your own herbs? What’s your favorite way to use basil?
Until next time, Ali.