Basil: Create an easy pesto sauce by combining: 1 cup fresh basil leaves, 3 tablespoons of walnuts, 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves garlic. Puree in a food processor. If too thick, add a bit more oil. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage. Use pesto in pasta dishes, rice, vegetables or toss with cooked, cubed eggplant. Chop basil and add to ice cube trays, pour water over fresh chopped basil and freeze. Keep frozen cubes in a zip lock bag or air tight container. Fresh-frozen basil- always ready to spice up a dish. Basil is good for you as well. Loaded with anti-oxidants. Enjoy basil raw, or chopped and sprinkled on a homemade pizza before baking.
Cilantro: Snip a few leaves into salads, stir into tartar sauce or chili-sauce. Delicious in Mexican dishes, add to ground beef, tortilla soup. Combine cilantro leaves, chopped onion, garlic. Sprinkle these over omelets and frittatas.
Dill: Chop the foliage and sprinkle on grilled tuna, salmon, new potatoes, cucumbers, squash, lamb chops, tomatoes and salads. Create a chilled dill sauce for fish, scallops, and shrimp. Combine I cup of plain yogurt or 1 cup of sour cream. Add 3 tablespoons finely minced dill weed and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Chill one hour. Serve as a dipping sauce or spoon over seafood hot off the grill.
Garlic chives: Combine chunks of cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta cheese crumbs. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic chives. Add a splash of olive oil. Chill for about an hour. Chop the flat green leaves and sprinkle over salads, cream soups, baked potato. Use the leaves to flavor butter or oil. Toss a handful of wet garlic chives on hot coals and grill chicken or steak for a mild garlic flavor.
Mint: Use on lamb or veal chops, baked apples, and mint juleps. Finely chop mint and stir into yogurt or sour cream. Mix chopped mint with sliced cucumbers, radishes and baby carrots for a delicious side-dish. Prepare an herb-vinegar dressing with fresh mint and grated lemon zest. Use this vinegar as a marinade for ribs, pork shoulder, chicken.
Lemon balm: Add a few dried leaves to a teaspoon of loose black or green tea, and one cup of boiling water to the teapot. Steep for a few minutes, strain and drink while hot. Sprinkle fresh chopped lemon balm leaves on lamb, pork, peas, pearl onions, or steamed carrots. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of chopped fresh lemon balm to a tablespoon of melted butter, stir to blend and pour over fresh steamed broccoli.
Oregano: Toss thinly sliced red radishes, sliced purple onions, thinly sliced yellow squash, minced fresh oregano. lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Chill a few minutes and serve this on a bed of Romaine or Baby Bibb lettuce.
Rosemary: Add a few twigs of rosemary to hot coals right before grilling beef or chicken. Combine 2 teaspoons of finely minced rosemary needles with 1/2 cup soft unsalted butter. Use this butter to baste meats or grilled vegetables. Tie 3 or 4 rosemary branches together with twine, dip in olive oil, and use the branches as basting brush for meats, seafood, chicken, grilled onions, corn on the cob or potato wedges.
Sage: Lay fresh leaves on top of roast pork or a turkey breast before baking. Mince fresh sage leaves and add to chicken, egg or tuna salads.
Thyme: Saute’ strips of red, yellow, green, and orange sweet peppers in olive or vegetable oil, add minced garlic and finely chopped thyme. Serve the peppers along side broiled chicken or grilled burgers or steak. Sprinkle chopped thyme on chicken breasts before grilling or baking. Add a little chopped thyme to canned carrots or green beans. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
All recipes kitchen tested – in my own kitchen.
Blessed be sweet ones on this beautiful spring day.
~ Meadow Walker