So, you’ve planted an herb garden and now you have basil, oregano, cilantro, rosemary and more ready to turn summer dishes into fragrant delights.
If you’re like a lot of cooks, though, you’re not exactly sure what to do with all those herbs you were so enthusiastic about planting a couple months ago. It sounded like a good idea ...
... And it is! First, don’t be afraid to mix and match herbs and experiment, experts say.
According to farmersdaughterherbs.com, it’s easy to combine a variety of fresh herbs to produce amazing flavors in food. For example:
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Basil, probably the most popular of fresh herbs, combines well with bay, garlic, marjoram, oregano, savory and thyme in cooked dishes. When used fresh, it goes well with chives, dill, garlic, mint, nasturtium, parsley and watercress.
Chives go well with basil, chervil, cilantro, cress, dill, lemon balm, marjoram, nasturtium, oregano, parsley, sorrel, tarragon and thyme.
Dill goes well with basil, bay, borage, chervil, chives, garlic, mint, nasturtium, parsley, sorrel, tarragon and watercress.
Garlic has robust flavor and can add subtlety or intensity to food. Goes well with most herbs, but use sparingly with chervil, chives, lemon balm and mint.
Oregano blends well with basil, bay, chives, cilantro, garlic, marjoram, mint, parsley, savory and thyme.
Rosemary goes well with bay, garlic, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage, savory and thyme.
The complete chart, with food choices as well, is at http://www.farmersdaughterherbs.com/info/cooking-herb-chart.
Here’s an easy recipe called Fruit of the Vine Pasta from the Chicago Tribune: Cook 1 pound spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente; drain.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 onion, diced, and 1 red bell pepper, diced; cook until softened, 3 minutes. Add 3 cloves garlic, minced; 3/4 cup fruity red wine; 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne; cook, 1 minute.
Stir in 4 large tomatoes chopped and 3 tablespoons tomato paste. Simmer until thickened, 10 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons minced arugula, 2 tablespoons minced basil and 1 tablespoon each minced oregano and thyme; cook 2 minutes. Serve over pasta with Parmesan. Makes 6 servings.
Need some more recipes suggestions? Here are side dish ideas that make good use of fresh herbs.
What’s the best way to store herbs?
Laura Frerichs and husband Adam Cullip of Loon Organics, Hutchinson, Minnesota, offered this advice:
1. Woody herbs, such as thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary, are best dried for later use if not using immediately. Just grab a bunch, put a rubber band around them and hang them upside down from the ceiling. (Be sure to keep them out of the sun because they’ll fade a little bit.) We store dry herbs — whole — in mason jars. We don’t crush them up until we use them. Once you crush them, they start to lose their aromatic qualities.
2. Other herbs: We freeze dill, parsley and basil. We just put each herb in a food processor with a little bit of oil and garlic, then freeze them in ice cube trays. Once they’re frozen, pop the cubes out of the trays and put them in a zip-top bag and store them in the freezer.
Tomato and Brie Tart
You can use any tart dough for this recipe, or refrigerated pie crust. Camembert cheese is similar to Brie, and either one can be used in this recipe.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
21/2 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese
4 plum tomatoes, cut into thirds lengthwise
6-8 ounces Brie or Camembert cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, peeled, minced
To make the tart dough: In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter, salt and pepper until mixture resembles coarse meal. Alternatively, mix with a pastry blender or fork.
Mix in the oil and 2 tablespoons of water just until the bottom of the mixture begins to cling together. If necessary, add more water. The mixture should easily gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.
To make the tart: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the chilled dough into a 14-inch circle and place it into a tart pan; set aside.
Spread the mustard over the bottom of the tart shell. Sprinkle the Gruyère evenly over the mustard and alternately arrange the tomato and Brie in a circle over the Gruyère.
In a small bowl, mix the 1/2 cup of olive oil, all of the herbs and the garlic together. Brush about two-thirds of the mixture over the tart. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 35 minutes.
Remove the tart and brush it with the remaining oil. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 12 servings.
Adapted from www.countryliving.com by Susan Selasky for the Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen
Stuffed Crescent Roll Carrots
Swap cream cheese mixture with your own favorite filling, such as egg salad or chicken salad.
8 (12-by-4-inch) sheets of foil
1 can (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent dough sheet
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 small sprigs fresh parsley
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll sheets of foil from shorter ends into cone-shaped molds.
Unroll dough on work surface; if using crescent rolls, press seams to seal. Use pizza cutter or knife to cut dough lengthwise into 8 (1-inch) strips.
2. Wrap 1 strip around each foil mold to create carrot shape. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 7 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to cooling rack; cool completely before removing foil molds.
4. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, parsley, chives, lemon peel and salt with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and combined. Pipe or spoon cream cheese mixture into cavity of each crescent. Top with 2 sprigs parsley for carrot top.
Skillet Potato Salad with Basil
This easy potato salad bucks tradition by leaving out the mayo, mustard and hard-cooked eggs. Instead, it’s flavored with citrus, basil and cilantro, and gets a touch of heat from cayenne. For a prettier presentation, chiffonade the basil leaves into delicate ribbons.
1 1/2 pounds assorted fingerling potatoes
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 cup orange juice (from 1 juicy orange)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon unrefined or raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Wash potatoes well under running water. Cut them into 1-inch pieces, drop them in a medium-size bowl and cover with cold water. Allow to soak for 15 minutes to remove any surface starch.
Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Give the colander a good shake or two to rid potatoes of excess water. Spread potatoes on towel and dry them well.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once oil appears to shimmer, add potatoes, cover them and cook them, stirring occasionally, until they are crispy brown on the outside and tender when pierced with a fork or knife without being all-apart overcooked, 15 to 20 minutes.
As potatoes brown, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. As soon as pan is hot, sprinkle in coriander seeds. Toast seeds, shaking the pan very often for even browning, about 1 minute. Transfer seeds to a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Once they are cool, grind them to the consistency of finely ground black pepper. (Alternately, if you don’t grow coriander, you can use 1/2 tablespoon dried ground.)
Once potatoes are ready, dump into a serving bowl, along with any residual oil in skillet. While they are still warm, add orange juice, basil, cilantro, salt, sugar, cayenne and the coriander. Give it all a good stir. Allow salad to sit for a half-hour or so to let the flavors mingle.
Yield: 6 servings.
“Smashed, Mashed, Boiled and Baked — And Fried, Too!” by Raghavan Iyer
2 pounds (about 3 medium) yellow summer squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled, bruised
1/2 pound wide, long pasta, such as pappardelle
1 1/2 cups (total) chopped basil, thyme, parsley, chives and, if your herbs suffer neglect, chive blossom petals
1 tablespoon salted butter, cut up
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut squash into long strips, about 1-inch wide and 1/2-inch thick. Season lightly with salt.
2. Toss squash with the oil and garlic and arrange in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets. Slide into a 450-degree oven and roast, turning squash once, until squash is golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Discard garlic.
3. Cook pasta. Drain.
4. Scrape roasted squash (along with any oil) into a serving bowl. Toss with herbs, cooked pasta and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy with summer.
Fattoush Vegetable Salad
You can also top this salad with a dollop of Feta-Dill Yogurt Dressing. The creamy dressing complements the tangy vinaigrette and sumac nicely.
1 head romaine lettuce, trimmed
1 small head Boston lettuce, halved, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh herbs, such as a combination of cilantro, parsley and mint
4 to 6 medium tomatoes, cut into eighths
3 small green onions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
1/2 seedless cucumber, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded, chopped
4 large radishes, cut into matchsticks, about 1/3 cup
1/2 cup drained canned garbanzo beans
About 2 cups roughly broken crispy pita wedges, optional
2 cups shredded cooked chicken, optional
Fresh lemon vinaigrette
Ground sumac, optional
Fresh lemon wedges
1. Cut the romaine head lengthwise into quarters. Then sliced each quarter into 1/2 inch wide pieces. You should have about 6 cups. Put into a large mixing bowl along with the Boston lettuce. Add herbs and toss to mix. (Mixture can be refrigerated up to 2 days in a covered container lined with a piece of paper toweling.)
2. Just before serving, add tomatoes, onions, cucumber, bell pepper, radishes and garbanzo beans to the lettuce mixture. Toss well. Add pita wedges and chicken if using, then add a couple of spoonfuls of vinaigrette (do not drench salad). Toss again to lightly coat everything with the vinaigrette.
3. Pile salad onto serving plates. Sprinkle with sumac and garnish with lemon wedges. Add just a dollop of yogurt dressing (recipe below) on top, if desired
Makes 2 entrees or 4 side salads.
Nutrition information per serving (for 4 servings): 220 calories, 7 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 35 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 277 mg sodium, 8 grams fiber.
Jeanmarie Brownson, Chicago Tribune
Feta-Dill Yogurt Dressing
1 medium lemon
1 carton (7ounces) plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup finely crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon each: salt, sugar
Grate the zest from the lemon into a small bowl. Squeeze the juice; you should have about 3 tablespoons. Add it to the bowl. Stir in the yogurt until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Taste for seasonings and adjust lemon juice, salt and sugar as desired. Refrigerate covered for up to 1 week.
Yield: 1 cup.
Nutrition information per tablespoon: 31 calories, 2 grams fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 1 gram carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 62 mg sodium.