I’ve been thinking lately about fruits and herbs, and their compatibility, after reading the intro to The Flavor Bible. The book describes how scientists can now analyze the cell structure of foods and determine whether they pair well together. It turns out that popular pairings like tomato and basil, or lamb and rosemary, have similar cell structures. Funny how science just confirms what the human palette intuited.
But here’s where it gets a little weird. It turns out that through this cell analysis, scientists are coming up with new, compatible pairing possibilities. Topping the list is… banana and parsley.
Now, I was pretty skeptical of this combination, but I couldn’t help but try it out.
I froze two bananas (peeled and wrapped in plastic wrap before sticking in freezer), then blended them with a handful of parsley, a spoonful of Greek yogurt and a dollop of honey. The consistency was like frozen yogurt, and I have to say that in my sweltering kitchen on that midsummer day it tasted incredibly fresh and interesting!
I’ve been on a quest for a summer smoothie recipe, so I thought I’d continue my experimenting with fruits and herbs (I will have to wait until I get my hands on a copy of The Flavor Bible to find out if it addresses any other of these flavor combinations, since I had just read a downloaded sample of the book). I tried strawberries and basil, as well as mango and cilantro. Both worked great in terms of consistency for a smoothie, and again the flavors were so fresh and interesting. I have to say my favorite is the mango cilantro – the mango was so ripe and sweet that I didn’t need any sweetener and it counterbalanced the peppery cilantro; I instantly gulped down the two glasses I made and wanted more of that sweet/peppery refresher.
Now I’m brainstorming more potential pairings for a smoothie: peaches and ginger? Blueberries and mint? Let me know if you try any of these or if you have a new combination!
Strawberry-Basil and Mango-Cilantro Summer Smoothies
Directions: Wash strawberries (about 3 cups full) and cut their stems off; once dry, put them in a freezer-safe plastic bag and place in the freezer. Cut 2 mangoes into long spears and chunks and put in a freezer-safe bag and place in the freezer. It will take an hour or two to be fully frozen. Meanwhile, wash the herbs – a handful each of basil and cilantro; let dry and remove most stems. When fruit is frozen, mix each combination in a food processor: frozen strawberries + basil (and a little honey or other sweetener of your choice); frozen mango + cilantro (nothing else needed). Pour into glasses and decorate with any extra fruit pieces. Makes 2 small glasses for each flavor combination.