When I think about fresh herbs, I reflect on just how far my food journey has taken me. Until a couple years ago, I had never really experienced fresh herbs before. “Flavor” to me used to mean dumping sugar on top of my Frosted Flakes.* The idea of using fresh dill to season potatoes or a sprig of thyme to add zest to a homemade soup was absolutely foreign to me. I think the first time I experienced fresh herbs (that I can actually recall) was the summer that my mom grew chives out on our backyard deck, just a few years ago.
* In my mother’s defense, I did this behind her back; she did not approve. 🙂
Fast forward a couple years… I find using fresh herbs to be terribly inconvenient, but I still make the effort now and then. I despise how recipes always call for a minuscule amount, but stores sell them in rather large packages. Not helpful! Thus, I typically only buy them if it’s either an important recipe or it’s something that requires a hefty amount of herbs!
This week, I have fresh basil on hand because I used it to make a homemade pasta sauce (whaddup?). Immediately, I knew it was my chance to tackle this Strawberry Basil Oatmeal. Look at me, all sophisticated and whatnot. 🙂
No, but in all serious, this was one of the most sophisticated bowls of oatmeal I’ve ever enjoyed. I mean…LOOK AT IT.
The amount of basil you use depends on your current acquirement of the flavor combo of fruit + basil. Strawberry and basil is a new combination for me, so I played it safe and just used one large basil leaf (and loved it). However, I could see bumping up the basil flavor and not regretting it! Just make sure you put almost all of the basil in the oatmeal while it’s cooking and be more skimpy on the topping. I went a little overboard for the pictures, and I ended up eating around those ribbons. Raw, liberated basil = a little too pungent for me.
I also highly recommend creating a lovely balsamic reduction to drizzle over the top, if you’re into that kind of thing. I skipped this for two reasons: 1) I couldn’t find my mom’s balsamic, even though I truly believe she has some, and 2) I don’t actually like balsamic that much. (I know, I know. But it’s slowly growing on me. I tried some super high-quality and fresh balsamic a few months ago and surprisingly liked it!) Instead, I offered an alternative of adding the vinegar directly into the oatmeal, which results in a more subtle flavor. Since I couldn’t find my mother’s balsamic, I actually substituted red wine vinegar, and it surprisingly turned out really great!
What you'll need:
- 3/4 cup milk of choice, or water
- 1/2 cup rolled oats (I use Country Choice Organic)
- 6-8 fresh strawberries, hulled
- splash of lemon juice
- 1-3 basil leaves (I used one large leaf)
- 1/8 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional, see notes above)
- pinch of salt
How to make it:
- Bring milk (I use 1/2 c almond milk and 1/2 c water) to a boil, add oats, and reduce heat to medium. (If you'd like to add flax or chia seeds, do so now.) FYI: The liquid in this recipe is a reduced amount than usual because you will be adding extra liquid later with the pureed strawberries.
- Puree 4-6 of the strawberries with the lemon juice. I used an immersion blender to do this.
- Using the chiffonade method, cut your basil into ribbons.
- Once more of the liquid has absorbed in the oatmeal, pour in the strawberry mixture, optional balsamic, basil ribbons, and salt. Stir.
- When you're pleased with the consistency of the oatmeal, transfer to a bowl. Add a splash of your milk of choice, remaining strawberries, and any other additional toppings (Greek yogurt [I used SoDelicious Greek Style in the photos], more basil ribbons, balsamic reduction, etc.).