As I mentioned on Monday, last week I loaded up on strawberries which were on sale. This week I came up with some strawberry-based dishes: Strawberry Basil Jam and Strawberry Arugula Salad!
The first thing I made was the salad, a delicious and refreshing Spring salad which was great for lunch. I started by cutting up some fresh arugula which came on the stem, then quartering some strawberries to go in. I love the way greens and fruits go together, and strawberry with arugula is no exception. It almost makes a salad taste decadent or dessert-y (or it could just be because I love fruit so much).
I also threw in some slivered almonds for a protein and healthy fat punch, then topped it off with balsamic vinaigrette. This simply involves me putting 2 parts balsamic vinegar, one part olive oil in a bottle and shaking it to emulsify before pouring it on a salad. After tossing everything together, I topped the salad with a blend of black and pink cracked pepper for a little extra zip.
But I still had lots of fresh strawberries left, as well as a craving for some fresh jam. Enter Strawberry Basil Jam!
Homemade jams, I’ve discovered, are a food item that seems way more complicated to make than it actually is. Fortunately I found a recipe a few years ago which had you make jam in under ten minutes by using corn starch as a thickener instead of pectin. Brilliant! I’ve been making jam this way ever since, and I don’t taste a difference.
Similar to my love of fruit in salads, I love basil with fruit. Basil and strawberries make an excellent combo in smoothies, popsicles, and sorbet; so I thought, why not add some fresh basil to a homemade jam? So Marvin lost a few more hairs and I got an amazing Spring/Summer jam made from scratch in ten minutes.
I started by pulsing the strawberries and basil leaves in a blender until well-chopped. You can mash the strawberries if you want, but since you have to chop the basil anyway, I just prefer to chop them all together in a way that gets them really pulsed down for proper jam texture. Once pulsed, I put the mixture in a small saucepan and added agave nectar, heating it on medium to get it bubbling.
Once the mixture started bubbling I added some arrowroot powder (a good sub for corn starch) and a bit of water, then lowered the heat to low and simmered for about six minutes. It got nice and thick really quickly; I simmered for this long to let the flavors cook and meld. Now it’s sitting in the fridge chilling away!
Strawberry Arugula Salad with Slivered Almonds and Balsamic Vinaigrette (Serves 1)
2-3 cups fresh arugula, chopped or torn
1 cup fresh strawberries, quartered
2-3 TB slivered almonds
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Cracked black and/or pink pepper, to taste
Toss the arugula, strawberries, and almonds together in a bowl. In an empty bottle or jar with tight-fitting lid, shake the vinegar and olive oil until emulsified. Pour over the salad and toss. Add pepper and serve.
Strawberry Basil Jam (makes about 1/2 a cup of jam)
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 TB agave nectar
2 tsp arrowroot powder
1 TB water
Pulse the strawberries and basil in a blender or food processor until well-chopped and almost smooth, like a sauce. Transfer to a small saucepan and stir in the agave nectar. Heat on medium until bubbling.
Dissolve the arrowroot powder in the water, then add the mixture to the jam and stir it in. The jam will look white-pink but the color will deepen as you cook it, so don’t worry. Turn the heat down to low and cook for about 6 minutes. Transfer to a jar and allow to cool a bit before putting in the fridge to cool completely.