Posts tagged ‘herbs’
Entertaining this weekend? Save your hard earned cash for the food; no need to buy flowers, too. The abundance of herbs in the garden at this time of year makes it very easy to come up with a suitable arrangement. Cut handfuls of basil, mint (make sure you cut some stem so you can put it all in water), chives, whatever you have on hand. If any of your herbs have started to flower, grab some of them, too, for color. Adding onion flowers (the white bulb-like blossom in the picture) would be a mixed blessing because it means your onions stopped growing prematurely (usually due to extreme temperature fluctuations similar to what we’ve experienced this summer). On the other hand, they’ll look stunning in your centerpiece!
You’ll want a relatively shallow vase because your stems won’t be that tall, and I’ve found it helpful to have a dense bunch of herbs so they stay together and don’t droop. It’s amazing how long they’ll last, giving you enjoyment long after your guests have left.
Pesto is one of life’s greatest delights–whether it is made with arugula, basil, or cilantro. Make up a batch and freeze it in ice cube trays so you’ll always have some on hand: try it as a quick fix for a bland soup; to add a layer of complexity to a sauce; or to perk up a pasta. You might also consider filling a canning jar and giving it as a gift–your friends will love you! (Be sure to put a layer of oil on top to keep the air from ruining the vibrant green color).
Arugula–Puree batches of this sharply flavored green with olive oil, garlic and a touch of lemon. Add to just cooked linguine or bocatini tossed with sautéed shallots, garlic, sliced wild mushrooms and spinach. Serve with balsamic vinegar and pecorino romano cheese at the table.
Basil–A traditional pesto calls for basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil. Mix with a good quality mayonnaise, in approximately equal proportions, and spread on toasted ciabatta. Make a terrific sandwich with grilled salmon or chicken, roasted red peppers and wild greens.
Cilantro—Combine cilantro in a food processor with garlic, lime juice and olive oil. Cook a shaped pasta, preferably ditale or cavatappi. Put in a big bowl and add corn, chopped scallions, and red pepper, blue cheese and black beans. If you want a heartier dish, chunks of grilled chicken make this a true meal.
Previously published in the Independent magazine.