Herbs in the Garden
I love having fresh herbs for whatever I am cooking. My garden has a profusion of every variety. Three types of basil, English and lemon thyme, rosemary, parsley and lemongrass. I even have lavender for making syrup.
Great Lakes Gardening
Herbs are hearty plants. Given favorable conditions they thrive with little attention. Nevertheless the Chicago climate will not sustain them long past October. Not wanting to let something so precious go to waste, I experiment while I can.. I also fill my freezer with some favorites.
Egg Salad Experiment
I thought I would love a zesty light egg salad filled with herbs and vegetables. In truth, the crunch I enjoy in chicken salad did not translate to my conception of egg salad. I enjoyed photographing the components of the dish, more than the sandwich. Perhaps comfort foods aren’t meant to be improved.
My favorite food to make from herbs is pesto. I have plenty of basil, pine nuts and parmesan for the traditional variety. I’ve also been experimenting with some new pesto recipes. My newest creation is a mint, parsley, lemon and walnut pesto that I paired with lamb marinated in garlic and rosemary.
Frozen Fresh Herbs
One way to preserve fresh herbs is to freeze them. The easiest way is to chop fresh herbs and freeze them in ice cube trays. On winter days the ice cubes can be added to impart fresh flavor to sauces and stews
Syrups are a delicious addition to desserts, tea, sodas and cocktails. They are also easy to make; one part sugar dissolved in 1 part boiling water then infused with at least an ounce of the chosen herb for two hours. Strain and your syrup is ready. Thyme, basil and lemongrass are some of my favorites.
Mint Parsley Pesto
2 handfuls of parsley
2 handfuls of mint
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 clove minced garlic
Lemon zest from 1/2 a lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Toast walnuts over medium high heat, stirring frequently/ for 5 minutes. The walnuts are ready when they are slightly browned and smell toasty.
Process all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Add more olive oil if necessary for pourable consistency. Taste for flavor balance. Serve as a sauce for meat or vegetables.