If you are growing herbs in your garden, you’re already an expert at grabbing a handful of aromatic herbs, roughly chopping them and adding them to your favorite salads, sauces, soups and marinades. Your serving plates are garnished with greenery and your dips are made with fresh herbs instead of dried. As for pesto, you’ve made them all: basil, parsley, arugula, etc. But it’s late summer and after all that culinary creativity, do you still have an over-abundance of herbs? Before you even think about letting them go to waste, think about the following uses.
- Branches of woody herbs such as rosemary can be used as garnishes in mixed drinks. Rosemary makes a great swizzle stick and delicate herbs like mint, coriander and lemon balm can also add a different taste to your summer cocktails.
- Reserving a few of those sturdy rosemary branches to use as skewers for grilled kabobs. Fragrant thyme, sage or rosemary can also add flavor to barbecued food just by tossing a few dampened bunches of them directly on hot coals or in a grill box for a gas grill. The oils mingle with the smoke adding a smoky-herbal essence to whatever you’re grilling.
- Next time you crave a cup of herbal tea, don’t search the cupboard for a stale teabag. Instead, check your garden for the most aromatic herbs you can find and steep them until you have a fragrant infusion.
- Although herbs are usually used in savory recipes, they also lend themselves beautifully to sweet preparations. Herbs are excellent in sorbet, especially basil, lavender, rose and edible flowers such as scented geranium. Besides sauces and sorbets, simple baked goods can also benefit from the addition of herbs, for example, blueberry-sage corn muffins.
- Make your own flavored vinegars. Start with good quality vinegars: red or white wine, or cider—but not balsamic. Then create several varieties of vinegars by using different herbs. Make sure the herbs are always covered by liquid and let it rest for a couple of weeks.
Make Compound Butters
Unsalted butter combined with lemon zest, rosemary, thyme and sage makes a nice spread for rolls or to top a grilled steak or to use as a flavorful ingredient for cooking.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Mash butter in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Mix lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and black pepper into the butter until thoroughly combined. Chill until ready to use in a recipe.
Herb and Walnut Butter
This is a great sauce to go with grilled fish.
- 2 walnut halves, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 juniper berries, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 16 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 1 cup watercress, leaves and tender sprigs only
- 1/2 cup baby arugula
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a small skillet, toast the walnuts over moderate heat for about 3 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Stir in the butter, juniper berries, orange zest and lime juice. Scrape the nut butter onto a sheet of wax paper and spread into a 3-by-6-inch rectangle; wrap in the paper. Refrigerate until firm.
Put the garlic in a small saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking water. Drain. Transfer the garlic and reserved water to a blender. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the grapeseed oil and puree until smooth. Scrape the garlic puree into a bowl.
Add the watercress, arugula, parsley, basil and dill to the blender and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup each of olive oil and grapeseed oil and puree until smooth. Add the Parmigiano, lemon zest, lemon juice, the garlic puree and pulse to combine. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Mix well.
Spoon a little of the sauce onto a plate and top with grilled fish or steak. Unwrap the butter and place 1 tablespoon on top of the fish or steak and serve.
Make Herb Sauces
In Italy, salsa verde often accompanies poached chicken or fish and boiled meat. The tangy green sauce is also delicious on sautéed and grilled foods.
- 2/3 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons drained capers
- 3 cloves garlic, 1 whole, 2 minced
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Put the parsley, capers, the whole garlic clove, the lemon juice, anchovy paste, mustard, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender. Pulse just to chop, six to eight times.
With the machine running, add the 1/2 cup oil in a thin stream to make a slightly coarse puree. Leave this mixture in the food processor; if necessary, pulse to re-emulsify just before serving.
This is a great addition to grilled steak.
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup snipped chives
- 2 teaspoons minced tarragon
- 1 teaspoon minced chervil
- 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced
- 2 teaspoons chopped rinsed capers
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 375°F and toast the hazelnuts in a pie pan for 12 minutes or until the skins are blistered. Transfer the nuts to a kitchen towel; let cool slightly, then rub off the skins.
Finely chop the nuts and transfer them to a bowl. Add the parsley, chives, tarragon, chervil, anchovies, capers and shallot.
Stir in the vinegar, olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Serve alongside grilled steak.
Serve with cooked whole artichokes or other vegetables as a dipping sauce.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons chopped dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped capers
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- Hot sauce
- Freshly ground pepper
In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, dill, capers, lemon zest and juice, salt and paprika. Add a few dashes of hot sauce and season the mayonnaise with pepper. Chill until serving time.
Make Something Sweet
Pineapple and Basil Sorbet
Who knew basil paired so well with pineapple?
- 1 pineapple – peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup basil leaves
Blend the pineapple, sugar, pineapple juice and basil in a blender until smooth; chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Place mixture in an ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions; pour into an airtight container and freeze 8 hours or overnight.
Summer Berry and Rosemary Parfait
Rosemary Infusion Syrup
- Juice from 1 large lemon, strained
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon molasses
- 1 cup vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 cup fresh blackberries
- 2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
- 10 fresh strawberries, sliced
Rosemary Infusion Syrup
In a small saucepan, combine lemon juice, sugar, molasses, vanilla and rosemary. Bring to a boil; then allow to cool.
Place berry and fruit varieties in small bowls and evenly distribute rosemary infusion syrup over each. Mix well, until the fruits are coated in the rosemary syrup.
In a glass sundae/parfait dish, layer the infused berries and fruit with yogurt.
Top with your favorite granola.
Note: Recipe amounts given should yield 2 large parfaits. Adjust amounts to desired number of parfaits.
Rosemary Lemon Margarita
- 8 Lemons (juice only)
- 24 ounces club soda
- 4 rosemary sprigs
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 4 ounces Tequila
Combine lemon juice, club soda, sugar and tequila in pitcher. Mix well. Refrigerate until cold. Place 1 rosemary sprig in each of the 4 serving glasses. Add margarita and serve cold.
Basil Iced Tea
- 8 cups water
- 4 black tea bags
- 1 cup tightly packed chopped, fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup lime juice
- Simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves completely)
Bring water to a boil and then steep tea bags and basil for one hour or until the liquid comes to room temperature. When cool, remove tea bags and strain out basil leaves.
Stir in lime juice and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Pour over ice and add simple syrup to taste.
Substitute mint or lemon verbena in place of basil for a different taste.
Make A Rub
Spicy Herb Salt
This mildly spicy salt is delicious rubbed over big cuts of meat or thick steaks, but it is also good sprinkled on buttered bread or corn on the cob.
- 1 cup rosemary leaves (1 1/2 ounces)
- 1 cup thyme leaves and tender stems (1 1/2 ounces)
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
In a food processor or blender, pulse the herbs and garlic until chopped. Add the salt and pulse until finely chopped. Add the crushed red pepper and pulse to blend.
Spread the mixture in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and let stand, stirring occasionally, until dried, about 2 days. Transfer the mixture to a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
The herb salt can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 year.
- Make Your Own Condiments (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- What Kind Of Pesto Do You Like? (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Chef Secrets: Utilizing Fresh Herbs! (wwlp.com)