Written By Kimberley Cuachon Haugh —
Granted, this weekend does not officially mark the end of summer, but for me (and perhaps you) it does. The kiddos are back in school, and somehow the c’est la vie attitude that summer evokes is slowly melting away. As we edge closer to fall, now is the time to literally eat up the rest of summer and even preserve summer flavors to remind you of all those delicious warm weather memories.
Don’t let your herbs go to waste. Here are a few ideas to inspire you and to make sure you have a little sunshine on those upcoming fall days.
Pesto. While the most common is a basil pesto (recipe follows) try experimenting with other herbs and nuts. Pesto can be frozen in ice cube trays for an easy addition to pasta sauces for extra flavor. But freezing them in tiny containers works well too. Pesto will keep in the fridge for about two weeks.
Butter. Get butter to room temp where you can fold in freshly chopped herbs. Dump the butter mixture onto some parchment paper, roll into a log, pinch both sides and voila! Refrigerate or freeze, and cut pieces as you need them.
Oil. Infuse your olive oil either in a cruet or in ice cube trays. Simply place your herbs in the container, remember, a little goes a long way. Warm the olive oil in a pan and then pour it onto the herbs. Store this in a dry cool place with no direct sunlight. The herb infused olive oil is perfect for salads, or use it to add some summer flavor to your meats. You may choose to strain out your herbs. If using an ice cube tray, pop it into the freezer.
Stock. Use the same freezing method mentioned previously but use chicken or vegetable stock. This will add that extra bit of flavor when finishing your dishes or is a quick and easy way to produce a light sauce.
Dry. This method concentrates the flavor of your herbs hence the reason why a recipe calls to use less of a dry herb than a fresh one. You can dry and bottle your own herbs by placing them on a cookie sheet and baking them on low for a few minutes. Keep an eye on them though, as you don’t want to burn them.
Seasoning Salt or Sugar. Layer fresh herbs between salt or sugar in an airtight container. Sift out the herbs once they are desecrated and you will have some deliciously flavored salt or sugar.
TIP: Be cautious of the state that your herbs are in when you pick them. You need to make sure that they are not at their bitter state. For example, lemon basil turns bitter once it begins to flower. So taste before your harvest.
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 3/4 -1 cup olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1. Toast pine nuts until golden brown in a pan. This will draw out their natural oils and will make them more flavorful.
- 2. In a food processor, combine all ingredients with about half the olive oil. As you are processing the ingredients slowly add the remaining amount of oil.
- TIP: Walnuts are a cost-effective substitute to pine nuts.