August 9, 2011
A World of Flavors
Remember my little container garden? I have a few cucumbers, some not yet ripe cherry tomatoes, and herbs. I realized, better late than never, that the mint, sage, and rosemary should be cut back. I trimmed some of their leggy growth which has encouraged the plants to branch out and they seem healthier already.
My pots of herbs aren't flourishing as much as they would in a sunnier spot, but I want to make sure
to use them as much as I can. I have picked lots of basil leaves to I rip up and toss into salads. The green leaves blend in with the rest of the vegetables but a bite with basil is vibrant surprise. It only takes a few clay pots to grow a world of flavors. Though my selection this year isn't very exotic, I still have leaves and stems in several shapes, sizes, and textures. I toss them with abandon into all kinds of dishes for their individual influence on the meal.
Though using fresh herbs is a kitchen adventure, I am also drying some to use after the frost and lack of daylight rob me of my plants. I don't have enough to dry large amounts, but I don't use large quantities of dried herbs anyway. If you don't have a garden, but you buy fresh herbs to use for cooking, you can dry what is left over to use later.
I tied up some oregano and thyme which will help turn jars of tomatoes into sauce for pizza and pasta this winter. To dry them, I hang small bundles in a well-ventilated (but not breezy) area away from direct sunlight. If you have a large bunch of herbs you can put them in a paper bag and tie up the stems and the bag's opening. This will keep them dust free and catch any leaves that may fall as they dry. Once the herbs are totally dry, I crumble them into a clean empty spice jar.
I've been making and freezing basil pesto but I am intrigued by this recipe for sage pesto. My sage plant is still small, but if you have a lot of sage, here are 45 things to do with it. I have been wanting to try making more homemade sodas and these honey herb and cherry basil sodas would be a new way for me to use the herbs I have. I wish I had more time to use my herbs creatively, but at least I can admire them on my way in and out of our apartment.
How do you use fresh herbs?