Friday, September 10, 2010

Herb Envy

The weather is cooling down, Labor day has flown by and it is time to savor the last bits of summer.  In order to preserve the essences of summer I am posting three staple recipes made best with fresh summer herbs.  All of my herb recipes are inspired by one of my most favorite places to visit-my best friend Gabby's house in Delaware.

Now normally Delaware is not your go to vacation destination (no offense to the delightful tax free little state).  But Gabby's house has something special, her mom Grace.  Grace is the ultimate cook and her garden puts Better Homes and Garden magazine to shame.  You won't find a better selection of herbs anywhere on the east coast.  We're city girls, so a weekend in suburbia with a big pool, a rose garden and a personal chef is so far removed from a typical weekend that it seems like light years away from New York City.

One of the things I find most frustrating about living in New York City is my lack of ability to have a garden.  Mind you, I definitely do not have a green thumb, but I love cooking with fresh herbs and it is just not as easy (or as fresh) when you have to buy over priced bundles from the supermarket.  I have my little plants growing on the windowsill but when I see Grace's garden I am instantly envious.

When in Delaware, I am always assigned to be on herb duty.  Grace sends me out to cuts tons of fresh herbs from her garden.  The mint for the water.  The basil, lemon thyme, oregano and parsley for dinner.  The rosemary to infuse the olive oil for bread.  And at the end of a beautiful herb filled weekend Grace will send Gabby and I back to New York City, armed with our own little herb plants.  And then without fail, we kill them.  I would say that between Gabby and I we have successfully killed upwards of 10 herbs plants.  Now we don't try to kill them and some resilient plants are still hanging on.  The basil and the rosemary seem to take best to city windowsills.   But there is just something about the city that they resist and even when you can keep them hanging on, it's just not the same.

These recipes are inspired by gardens, by city dwellers who grow plants, and of course, by Grace and her garden.

Basil Pesto
To preserve into the winter months, pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.  Traditional basil pesto is made with pine nuts, but my best friend Erika is allergic so I leave mine nut free.

1 bunch fresh basil
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese
Olive oil
salt, sprinkle to taste

Clean and remove the basil leaves.  Place them into the food processor with the other ingredients.  Add the oil slowly to create a nice thick pesto.  You do not want the pesto to be too sauce like.  It should hold form when scooped with a spoon.

Parsley Pesto
To preserve, place in a jar and store in the fridge.  The older it is, the better it is.  And unlike basil pesto, it won't go bad.

1 bunch fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon of salt
Olive Oil, about 1/2 cup

Place all the ingredients into a food processor.  There is no need to remove the stems from the parsley, just the bottoms and any pieces that do not look fresh.  Add olive oil as needed to create a nice sauce.  Place into a jar for storing.  Make sure the oil level is higher than the parsley.  If not, pour more oil.

Mint Water
Unfortunately there is no way to hold on to this recipe.  But you can continue to make it all winter long to remind you of the refreshing taste of summer.

1 Lemon
2 Limes
Fresh Mint

Slice the lemon and limes.  Clean the mint and then to release the flavor place it between your palms and slap them together once or twice.  You can put the whole stem in or remove the stem and just use the leaves.  Add ice cubes and water.

To make this better, use sparkling water.

To make this even better, add vodka to create a delicious fresh, low calorie cocktail.

What makes this bite better?
Cooking with herbs infuses food with tons of flavor that's healthy!  There is no need for extra salt, cream, butter, oil or cheese in food that is well seasoned with herbs.  Learning how to cook with herbs is a great way to create healthy, fresh meals.  In addition, many alternative schools of medicine rely on herbs for their medicinal purposes.  Great flavor and an overall health boost- can't go wrong with that!

Lots of recipes with these pestos will follow :)

1 comment:

  1. I have not killed that many plants ... maybe 3...

    i used the parsley pesto for dinner this week. I baked talapia, canelli beans, tomato and onion with the parsley pesto mixed in. it was delicious