A Squared: Cooking with Fresh Herbs

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cooking with Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs are some of my favorite ingredients to cook with. They can totally transform the flavor or a simple dish and turn it into something totally special or different.

I planted an herb garden on our deck again this summer and am happy to report that after over a month, I haven't observed any plant casualties yet. Perhaps my brown thumb is no more? I don't want to speak too soon on that, but I have certainly enjoyed having these fresh herbs at my disposal for the past few weeks.

In that spirit, I wanted to share a few ideas of how I'm planning to use the herbs that are currently taking over my balcony. Don't let them go to waste this summer!

  • Make homemade pesto. You can freeze single servings of it in ice cube trays and store them in the freezer until you need them for pasta, sandwiches, sauces, etc. It's the perfect way to make sure you thaw just enough.
  • You know basil pairs perfect with sweet tomatoes, but give it a try with fruit like watermelon or berries in a salad or even dessert. It's surprisingly delicious!
  • Slice up a few basil leaves to garnish a simple pasta or risotto. It adds some color and great fresh flavor.
  • Chopped fresh chives are a great addition to homemade vinaigrettes. Whisk together some olive oil, vinegar (of your choice, Dijon mustard, and chives, season with salt and pepper and it's the perfect dressing.
  • Fresh chives are also a great way to add subtle onion flavor to a dish. Sprinkle chives on top of sauteed chicken or fish or stir them into boiled new potatoes with a little butter and garlic.
  • Everyone knows cilantro is made for Mexican food! Top your tacos with a few leaves or stir chopped cilantro into homemade guacamole or salsa. 
  • Cilantro is also a great ingredient for Asian dishes. Whisk chopped cilantro into a vinaigrette or add a few leaves to an Asian salad.
  • The strong flavor of cilantro makes a pesto with bite, but stir some cilantro pesto into mayonnaise and it's a tasty sandwich spread.
  • Make a simple and fresh tomato sauce for pasta or pizza and season it with fresh oregano. It packs a ton of punch.
  • Mix chopped oregano, grated Parmesan, minced garlic, salt, and a dash of pepper to butter and spread on crusty bread. Bake until golden for some amazing garlic bread.
  • Parsley makes a great addition to potato and pasta salads. Chop it up and mix it in for a fresh tasting addition to any summer salad.
  • This is another herb that I love to add to homemade vinaigrettes. You could even combine it with the chives for an extra punch of flavor.
  • Use chopped fresh parsley as a garnish on roasted vegetables. It looks pretty and adds a bit of freshness to the deep flavor of slow roasted veggies.
  • Try rosemary in a cocktail! Add a spring to a cranberry cocktail for a festive and flavorful holiday cocktail.
  • Stir chopped fresh rosemary into a dip to change up the flavors. Hummus, white bean, or yogurt based dips would work great. Add some lemon juice or zest and the chopped rosemary, but don't use too much. Fresh rosemary is potent and a little goes a long way!
  • Chopped rosemary makes a great addition to any spice rub and it works well with a variety of meats: poultry, pork, or beef.
  • Sage pairs perfectly with two of favorites: butternut squash and pumpkin. Add it to pizzas, pastas, or soups with these squashes and enjoy.
  • Fry it! Fried sage is tasty and pretty. Lightly fry whole sage leaves in olive oil in a saute pan for a few minutes, drain on paper towels, and use as a garnish on poultry dishes, flatbreads, or pastas.
  • Stuff sage leaves under the skin of chicken when you're roasting it. It infuses great flavor and looks cool too. 
  • Chop up thyme leaves and toss with potatoes before roasting. It's one of my favorite flavor combinations.
  • Mix it up with rosemary and butter and use it to baste roasted chicken or turkey. Delicious.
  • I recently had a lemony cocktail infused with thyme and garnished with a thyme spring. It was unexpected and delicious.

How do you get creative with herbs in the kitchen? Share some ideas!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...