Basil, is more than just pesto. We tend to use it in savory ways, but it’s great used in a sweet, dessert-type way too. Basil like mint, comes in flavors. Here we have from the top left corner (clockwise) Purple basil, Thai basil, Lemon basil, Columnar basil, Variegated basil and Genovese basil, the one we’re probably most familiar with. Strawberries are in at local farm stands right now. You know the ones. They actually taste like a real strawberry. They taste of summer. Basil is a natural with strawberries and this way of preparing strawberries can go either way—sweet or savoy. It may seem like the focus is on strawberries, rather than on basil. That’s a fair point. But, the basil adds a layer of freshness and flavor to the strawberries, a nuance, really. I want you to have other options to use basil, which within the next couple of weeks, will start to come into our lives in bundles and we will be making barrels of pesto. If you need a pesto recipe, there are thousands on-line, so try one of those. This is part of my “outside-the-box” food combinations and it works, oh, so well! By the way, this is excellent with mango, blueberries, peaches and nectarines. In other words, almost any fruit works well, so you can use this all summer long.
The Goddess loves these sorts of recipes. It’s flexible. You can decide what fruit you want to use and what direction you want to go, as you’re going! When strawberries are this good, and this seems to be a good year, although a very short one, I think there might be a week left, so get them now! As I was saying, when strawberries are this good, I don’t like to do too much to them. Frankly, eating them right out of the box, after a quick rinse under the tap, works for me, but this is a mixture I’ve been using for years. I don’t recall when I started doing this, but it may hark back to our early days in Ontario when we would go berry picking. I made jam, salsa, put them over shortcakes, and add them to pasta, both hot and cold and probably, it came from one of the experiments. Anyway, I’m glad it happened and that brings us here.
Strawberries and Basil
Dessert or Fruit Salad:
- 2-3 cups strawberries, rinsed, cleaned and sliced
- 1-3 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into incredibly thin strips (chiffonade)
- 2-3 teaspoons honey
- 1-3 teaspoons really good balsamic vinegar (use the best you can afford)
- pinch of kosher salt
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir just until combined. Set aside for about 15 minutes to let the flavors mingle. Serve as is or with ice cream or basil-whipped cream.
- Strawberries and Basil, prepared as above
- 1 avocado, diced (optional)
- 4-5 cups chopped romaine and/or other greens
- balsamic vinegar
- red onion, very thinly sliced or diced scallions or snipped chives
- toasted pecans or pistachios, coarsely chopped
- bleu cheese, feta, goat cheese or mozzarella
- good quality, pitted black olives
Combine the Strawberries and Basil mixture with the diced avocado, if using. Set aside.
Toss the greens together on a platter or shallow bowl. Drizzle with some extra balsamic, just a little. Place the strawberry mixture on top of the greens, leaving a nice border of the greens visible. Decoratively scatter the red onion and chopped nuts over the top of the salad. Randomly scatter smallish chunks of the cheese and black olives over. Serve.
NOTE: Sometimes I serve the cheese as a slice on the side of the plate, rather than add it to the salad. If the cheese is quite sharp, it can over-power the strawberry mixture. Feel free to add orange or lemon zest to the strawberries.
Strawberries and Basil Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
This is barely a recipe and frankly you really don’t need amounts. Less is more when it comes to good balsamic and fresh basil. Make no mistake, the star of this is really the strawberries, but the basil does add a lovely and surprising dimension. You need to taste the basil to determine how much you want to use. I used more than I would normally use, as I think the basil was on the underwhelming side. Remember to taste, taste, taste…and don’t forget that pinch of salt. It makes a huge difference in the final flavor.
This is the starting point—The Strawberry and Basil mixture. You can stop right here. This is a fantastic blend. I love to serve this for brunch or a light summer dessert. It’s pretty and delicious, just as any dessert should be…men, too…oh, did I say that out loud? The Goddess really must be more careful about these things….
For the more savory side, The Goddess likes “stuff” in her salads. Lot of stuff. So, I tend to overdo it a tad, so you make this the way you want to. This is what suited me today—I used the Strawberry & Basil blend from above. I used mixed greens with a drizzle of good balsamic and by the way, you stop right here and have a great salad. But, I wanted more, so I added diced avocado, a few strips of pickled red onion (we’ll be doing quick pickles later), but you can use plain red onion or scallions, and a sprinkle of toasted pecans that I had around. I have some Moody Bleu blue cheese (I think you can get that at most large supermarkets), but any bleu or feta or goat cheese or mozzarella will do. This is what I had on hand. I decided not to crumble it in, but just leave it on the side. Again, whatever works for you. I wasn’t feeling the black olives today, but they are very nice with this…the salty-sweet balance works very well. That’s really all there is to this…and remember, you can add very finely minced purple basil to heavy cream, whip it and top some strawberries with that…yet another use for basil!