This morning in the garden, I noticed a lone rogue basil plant working its way skyward from beneath the shelter of a neighboring prickly yellow squash. I plucked three broad green leaves from its shady base, and headed inside for breakfast.
I had been planning to indulge in a frozen strawberry smoothie; amidst the humidity of the past few days, I'd tucked a cup of chopped berries into the freezer for an icy morning treat. As today dawned hot and muggy, I pulled them out to throw in the blender.
My early basil discovery proved a fortuitous addition to the smoothie's ingredients. Along with the dollop of Greek yogurt and tablespoon of lime juice that followed the partially thawed strawberries into the blender, in went the basil leaves to be tumbled against the rest.
Basil and strawberry are a common pair; they both emerge just as the heat of summer sets in, both cool and crisp and bursting with flavor. They're often spotted together on pizza, bruschetta, and salads, or muddled together in cocktails or lemonades. It's not as often, however, that the sweet and savory pair of summer are mixed in a smoothie. The chilly drinks tend to be the domain of the sweet, allowing only for the tamest of interlopers like peanut butter or carrots.
This morning's concoction proved that theory wrong. The sweetness of the berries balanced out the subtle, spicy flecks of basil and the acidic, bright sting of Key West's finest lime. It's a recipe to be repeated—perhaps next time as popsicles.
STRAWBERRY BASIL SMOOTHIE
In a blender, combine until smooth: 1 cup partially thawed or fresh strawberries, 2 large basil leaves, 1 tablespoon Key West lime juice, 1 heaping tablespoon Greek yogurt. If berries are fresh, add 1/2 cup ice. Garnish with a third basil leaf and serve immediately.