Just because smoothies are all about keeping things simple, doesn't mean their flavor can't be beautifully sophisticated. Luckily for us, some of the most invigorating accents around are nothing more than a quick snip, chop, and pinch away; indeed, I'm speaking of the humble help of fresh herbs.
There are a couple rules when using herbs in smoothies, both of which ensure the herb remains a secondary flavor, and doesn't overwhelm the blend.The first is to always use fresh herbs, not dried. Dried herbs are more concentrated than their fresh counterparts, are too potent for raw applications, and more difficult to blend properly. Secondly, it's also important to use a light hand when adding fresh herbs: start very small (as in a half or even a quarter of a teaspoon) and work upwards slowly to control the volume of flavor. Try experimenting with these tried-and-true ingredient pairings, which pack in a whole new level of flavorful punch.
Basil and Melon
Warm and fragrant, basil adds an exceptionally exciting touch to any melon-based smoothieâ€¦ especially watermelon. A handful of goji berries helps bring out the herb's sweetness further, bringing everything together in antioxidant-rich harmony.
Rosemary and Cacao
Rosemary has a mildly minty flavor note, and creates a refreshingly exciting balance to cacao's dominant flavor. Especially successful when blended with a spoonful avocado or some raw cashews as well, a creamy cacao smoothie with a touch of rosemary makes for an exhilarating treat. Like all herbs, the key to using rosemary is adding very small quantities (start with Â½ teaspoon of chopped fresh leaves, and work up from there) so that its presence is noticeable, but very slight.
Thyme and Orange
Simple citrus-based smoothies are transformed into truly distinguished blends by the addition of a pinch of fresh thyme leaves. Adding a bit of zesty goldenberries (soak them in orange juice for 30 minutes to soften before blending) makes for a welcome addition.
Lavender and Berries
If you have lavender growing around you, your smoothies are in luck. Darker berries in particular, such as acai berries, maqui, and blueberries embrace the floral notes lavender flowers offer, with incredibly special results. Best when paired with a little vanilla, and used in very small quantities - a pinch or two will likely do the trick.