Friday, November 14, 2014

NINE Fantastic Uses for Leftover Herbs

Its that time of the year, the time of the year when I start getting lots and lots and LOTS of emails about what to do with leftover herbs. Maybe it's the all the herbs that people buy when they are getting ready for the holidays? Maybe the cold weather inspires everyone to stay in and cook more at home? No matter the reason – here’s a list that I send to any one who asks…

By now, almost everyone has heard that herbs are good for us. But what to do with those leftover leaves, sprigs and bunches? Try some of these ideas – or create your own!

ONE Make your own herb salad mix: Instead of putting herbs in your salad dressing, toss the leaves of basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley or marjoram into your salad. Interesting and lively greens!

TWO Brew up your Own Veggie Stock:
Save Money, Save the Planet! Keep a large Ziploc bag in your freezer - labeled Veg Stock, with the date. During the week, toss in ends and pieces of your veggies, and any herb stems and pieces. When the bag is full, take it out and drop the contents in a large stockpot. (For beautiful color in your stock, make sure to add in some papery skin from the outside of an onion.) Barely cover with water (about 5 cups) and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Strain the veggies from the stock and use in any soup recipe! (Plus you can compost the veggies and herbs!)

THREE Give them more than what’s IN the box: Tie woody or hardy herbs like rosemary or thyme to the ribbon of your present. (If you are lucky enough to grow your own herbs, during the holiday season, you can make your tree smell delicious, too. Tuck spears of rosemary into the branches.)

FOUR Double the batch of this easy tomato sauce and freeze half of it for later!

Fast and Flavorful Tomato Sauce
2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Finely Chopped Yellow Onion
3 Large Garlic Cloves, Grated or Minced
 1 TB Sea Salt
1 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes (or 3 Cups Chopped Fresh Tomatoes)
1 Bouquet Garni (made with any fresh herbs you have on hand, tied with kitchen twine)
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, over medium heat saut̩ the onion in the oil until it softens Рabout 5 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and cook, stirring, for an additional minute. Add the entire can of tomatoes and the bouquet garni. Simmer over medium heat for about 20 - 30 minutes longer. Give it a big grind of black pepper.

FIVE Put Herbs in a Cocktail for a change:
Go beyond the mint julep! Try Basil with Bourbon and a splash of lemon juice.
Chervil works well with whiskey, orange and sour mix or vodka with a spattering of thyme and a spear of cucumber.

SIX Pesto: Much More Than Basil! Shake up your pesto by combining herbs like Basil and Mint or Coriander and Parsley.

Perfectly Easy Pesto
4 Garlic Cloves,
1/3 Cup Toasted Walnuts, Almonds or Pinenuts

1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive oil

4 Cups Fresh Herbs
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

1 Tsp Lemon Juice

Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
Place the garlic cloves, nuts and oil in the bowl of a food processor and chop finely. Add the remaining ingredients, pulsing until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

SEVEN Serve these nuts with a rich chardonnay for a delicious aperitif!
Rosemary Spiced Nuts
4 TB Sugar, Divided
1 TB Finely Chopped Rosemary
1 Tsp Cinnamon
½ Tsp Salt
1 Large Egg White
4 Cups Raw Nuts: Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds, Brazil Nuts
Step One Preheat your oven to 350F. Cover a sheet tray with aluminum foil or parchment. Lightly spray with non-stick spray.
Step Two Combine 3 TB of  sugar, spices and salt together in a bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the egg white until foamy. Add in the nuts and stir. Add the spice mixture and toss to coat.
Step Three Spread the nut mixture out in one layer on the sheet pan. Bake, stirring once, for about 15 minutes or until golden.
Step Four Remove the pan from the oven, stir the nuts to loosen them and sprinkle the remaining TB of sugar over the top.

EIGHT Herbed Honey
Warm a cup of honey in a sauté pan, add a handful of fresh herbs, tied together. Simmer gently for 10 minutes and set aside to cool. Use a tablespoon in vinaigrette for a smooth herbal flavor, or add to a cup of green tea.

NINE Try drizzling this bright, intensely herbal sauce over a piece of fish from the grill!
Chimichurri Sauce
1 Cup Parsley, (Packed)
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½  Cup Cilantro, (Packed)
1/3 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled
¾ Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
½ Tsp Cumin
½ Tsp Salt
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend well.  Set aside for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld. Leftovers keep great in the fridge for a couple of days