Food

Fresh Herbs

March 27, 2014

imageAnytime I talk about spring and planting a garden my friends and family laugh hysterically, roll their eyes and pray for my poor plants whose fate is preordained. They know that no matter what I plant it will die. Guaranteed. I have a black thumb. That does not, of course, prevent me from trying, year after year to grow something, anything that can be used “FRESH” from my garden.

This year my newest plan doesn’t include anything complicated like tomatoes or squash or pumpkins or corn or even carrots. Rather I’m starting with the simplest, easy to grow herbs so that all I have to do is sow the seeds, pick the weeds and then snip the fresh stuff that I’m sure will grow (maybe).

I know, I know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again expecting a different result. But I am ever the optimist. This year I’m going with basil, oregano, tarragon dill and chives. These plants are supposed to all but grow themselves so the odds are in my favor (maybe).

The following recipes all utilize fresh herbs. While it may be a while before my garden grows (or not) I’m going to start practicing with the fresh stuff I can get at any grocery store. Yes, I know that the dried stuff is readily available and most people prefer a dash or pinch of the easy to grab bottled stuff but trust me on this, the fresh flavor is far better, subtler and so much more amazing.

You can substitute the dried stuff for the fresh in these recipes. A simple exchange is 3 parts fresh can be substituted for 1 part dried.

LEMON DILL CHICKEN (meat)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 3 pieces each
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. In a skillet heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil. Sear the chicken on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Place on a plate and cover with foil. Reduce the heat and add the remaining oil to the pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Whisk in the flour, and then add the broth, dill and lemon juice and whisk to combine. Cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens slightly, 3 to 4 minutes.

Put the chicken in the sauce, mix to coat and then cover and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the chicken on a platter, spoon the sauce over the top and garnish with the remaining chopped fresh dill. Serves 4

My files, source unknown

HERBED SPAGHETTI PIE (dairy)
1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to the package directions, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano
4 eggs, beaten well
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into slices or shredded

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 or 10 inch round spring form pan. In a bowl combine the Parmesan, ricotta, oregano, salt, pepper and eggs. Mix to combine. Add the cooked spaghetti. Mix to coat, then add half the chopped tomatoes and then pour in the beaten eggs. Mix to combine.

Press half the noodle mixture in bottom of greased pan. Sprinkle half the fresh basil on top then layer half the mozzarella on top of the basil. Spoon the remaining spaghetti mixture over the top of the cheese then sprinkle the remaining basil on top and cover with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until bubbly and golden on top. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before you try to remove/release it and cut it. To serve, cut into wedges. Serves 6 to 8

Modified from yummly.com

CHIVE BUTTER (dairy)
1 cup, unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped or snipped
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and by hand, combine. When thoroughly mixed, on plastic wrap, roll butter into a log then wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Modified from epicurious.com

PEAS PISTACHIOS AND TARRAGON (dairy or pareve)
2 pounds frozen peas, thawed
1 cup loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
4 to 5 scallions or green onions chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or pareve sour cream substitute
1 cup chopped pistachios
Sea or kosher salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 500. In the bowl of a blender or food processor combine the tarragon, green onions, olive oil, yogurt, and 1/3 cup of the pistachios. Process until smooth. In a baking dish combine the peas and sauce and then sprinkle the top with the remaining pistachios and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the top starts to become golden. Serves 4 or 5.

HERBED MOCK CRAB AND HEARTS OF PALM SALAD (fish)
1 lb. packages of kosher mock crab cut into pieces
2 cans hearts of palm, drained sliced in 1/2 inch slices
2 avocados, diced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 oz. crumbled Feta (about 2/3 cup)
1/4 cup diagonally sliced green onions
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
salt and black pepper to taste

Dressing :
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

pinch of sugar

In a bowl of a blender or food processor combine the lemon juice, sugar, olive oil, oregano, dill, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth.

In a bowl combine the avocado and lemon juice and toss to combine. In another bowl combine the mock crab, hearts of palm slices, oregano and green onions. Add the dressing and mix to combine. Gently fold in the avocados and crumbled Feta. Mix to combine, season with additional salt and pepper if desired and then cover and let sit for 1 hour before serving. Serve 6 to 8 as a salad 4 as a main course.

Submitted by Randi Grenwich Chicago IL

© Eileen Goltz herb 14a