The green gateway to freshness; that’s spring for you. Enter herbs. What’s unique about spring is that cooking with herbs works with what’s fresh growing now…asparagus, strawberries or rhubarb anyone?…as well as adding a refreshing shot of flavor to the stalwart staples from winter such as potatoes, carrots or even frozen vegetables.
It’s time to think of fresh spring herbs as a spotlight ingredient…not just a dried pinch shaken from a jar that’s been buried in the spice cabinet. Ditch the recipe and let what is growing dictate your meal. Here are 3 ideas to get you started:
Cooking with Herbs IDEA #1: Vegetables
Pick a vegetable. Roast, boil, steam or sauté. Add a handful of chopped or snipped fresh herb(s) and some salt. Toss with a little olive oil. Done.
The details: You have the fresh herb but did you know this combo is also all about the salt? Yes, I’m very aware that the big trend is to reduce sodium intake. So cut back on processed foods and chain restaurants. Do that and reclaim your ability to enjoy salt in amounts you control. But we’re not talking iodized salt. You want the good stuff.
So we made new potatoes with fresh chopped parsley and black truffle salt. (Rosemary would be good too).
- Green peas or green beans with tarragon and fleur de sel.
- Roasted asparagus or carrots with chives and smoked salt.
- Squash with oregano and sea salt.
- Sweet potato with sage and kosher salt.
And not to be forgotten—a little ground pepper works with any of these.
If you want a salt source variety, it’s fun to try a sampler. I recently purchased a 4 gourmet salt sampler from Clay Company. A sleek package and nice variety of salts in 2 oz. servings. (A little red flag: the same salt sampler is sold through Orvis for nearly twice the price.)
I always thought The Spice Lab made a playful salt sampler. How cool would this look in your spice cupboard or on your counter?
Cooking with Herbs IDEA #2: Breads & Biscuits
Making bread? Add your fresh chopped herb. It really couldn’t be much simpler. Here’s proof. Trader Joe’s fresh sage pack stuffs a convenient little recipe right in the package. So EASY, you’ll feel guilty getting compliments. Substitute it for whatever herb you have on hand.
Sage, 1/4 cup chopped
Flour, 2 cups
Baking Soda, 1/2 tsp.
Baking Powder 2 tsps.
salt, 1 tsp.
Butter, 1 stick
Buttermilk, 3/4 cup
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 F. Mix the four, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut 6 Tbs. COLD butter into the flour until it resembles course meal.
- Stir in the sage.
- Stir in the buttermilk.
- Using a large spoon place dough onto a greased baking sheet. Brush with remaining melted butter.
- Bake until tops are golden brown: about 10-15 minutes.
Cooking with Herbs IDEA #3: Salad
Still not sure what to do with your fresh herb? Chop it up and toss it in with your salad! Why not? Fresh herbs tend to have a more mild flavor than dried but still add a delicious, sophisticated je ne sait pas quoi to a green or red leaf salad. Plus, you boost the health value of your salad. Did you know that parsley and oregano are one of the fantastic 5 spice superheros? You do now!
Try this: Take those pretty purple blooms off of your chives, break them apart and sprinkle them directly into your salad.