Delicious AND Decorative!
Herbs are wonderfully plentiful in the summer. I have a backdoor herb garden with many perennial (and a few annual) herbs waiting to be snipped as I need them. Favorites are several varieties of thyme, winter savory (meaning it’s perennial, unlike its cousin, summer savory), oregano, and tarragon. Annuals that I plant every year include rosemary, lemon verbena, and marjoram. This year, I’m also trying out Thai basil.
I also have a few basil plants interspersed between the cherry tomatoes in the vegetable garden. To be honest, I call it the vegetable garden, but it’s really the cherry tomato garden as that’s the only vegetable I’m growing (except for one zucchini plant in the hopes of getting some blossoms to stuff and fry). We also grew a bed of sugar snap peas earlier in the summer. So, back to the herbs.
In addition to what’s growing in my backyard, as part of my farm share, I can pick handfuls of several types of annual herbs each week: basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill. Other than the basil, these aren’t ones I bother to grow at home. The quantity I use and the schedule of readiness just don’t map with practicality.
I’ve had mixed results with storing fresh-cut herbs in the fridge. Even in plastic bags, with or without wrapping the stems in damp paper towels, they only last a few days before yellowing or drying up or rotting.
I’ve finally settled on a method that keeps the herbs fresh for a week or more with the added bonus of providing a decorative touch to my kitchen counter. I simply treat the bouquets of herbs as I would fresh flowers, using small pitchers or jars as vases.
In the case of basil, where sometimes, I’ve pinched the tops so there isn’t much of a stem, I float the cuttings in a bowl of water. The herbs stay green, and occasionally the basil tops will start to roots after a week.
Sometimes I hesitate to use the herbs (though only for a moment) because of how pretty they look!
Chimichurri, the Argentine sauce, is a wonderful way to use a variety of mixed herbs. This recipe calls for equal amounts of cilantro and parsley with smaller amounts of mint and oregano, but that is just a guide. I find it best to stick with the recipe’s use of a large quantity of parsley and/or cilantro for the base and accent with your favorite herbs or the ones you have on hand. Chimichurri is delicious served on fish, chicken, steak or roasted or steamed vegetables.
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup cilantro
1 cup parsley
½ cup mint
¼ cup oregano
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice
Red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil
Sauté minced garlic in a little olive oil for a few minutes to soften. Place herbs and sautéed garlic in the food processor until roughly chopped (do not puree). Transfer to a bowl or jar. Add lemon juice and vinegar. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in olive oil, and let it sit for an hour or more so flavors can blend. Store chimichurri in the refrigerator, but let it come to room temperature before using.