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Cooking With Herbs August 10, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Vegetarian Recipes.
24 comments

A few weeks ago, we attended Cooking with Herbs at the Island Library.

Samantha, from the Manatee County Extension Office, perfumed the air with fragrant basil while whipping up Pesto and Pesto Herb Spread for us to sample on wheat or rice crackers.

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To make your own:

Basil Pesto:  Blend together 6 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds, 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, 1 cup packed Italian parsley leaves, 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup olive oil in a blender or food processor.  Serve over hot or cold pasta or with minestrone soup.

Pesto Herb Spread:  Blend together 16 ounces cream cheese, 3 Tbsp. pesto, 2 Tbsp. fresh chives, and 3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro.

A few fun facts:

* Herbs are best harvested in the morning, after the dew has evaporated, but before the sun has warmed them.

* Fresh herbs should be used soon after picking.  If you must store them, trim the stems on the diagonal and arrange in a tall glass or vase with an inch of water, like cut flowers.

* Herbs to consider:  Anise, Basil, Bay Leaves, Celery Leaves, Chamomile, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro, Dill (Weed & Seed), Fennel, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lovage, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, or Thyme.

* To become familiar with the flavor of an herb, mix it with butter, let it sit for an hour, spread the herb butter on a plain cracker, and taste.

Fresh Herb Butter:  Blend 1/2 cup softened butter with 1 tsp. each of chopped fresh basil, thyme, and parsley (or your favorite herbs).  Use on baked potatoes, hot pasta, or spread on bread.

Aah . . . that’s yummy!

What are your favorite herbs for cooking, tea, or lingerie sachets?

Basil and Oregano are delicious . . . but there’s something special about “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.”