Entries in what to do with fresh herbs (2)


garden herb greek salad


In August, when all the ingredients are in their peak season, I love using all the herbs in our garden to really boost a simple greek salad by adding them to every component. Served on a large platter it makes a beautiful centerpiece for a simple dinner...especially if you are shopping at a farm stand or farmer's market and find beautiful little tomatoes in an array of colors. We ate this one with yogurt marinated grilled chicken, grilled pitas with fresh herbs, and corn on the cob. Although this recipe sounds like a lot of steps each one only takes a minute or two. 



1 small red onion

3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon freshly chopped dill

1/2 pint feta

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil, plus 1 cup basil leaves

6 tablespoons basil oil (can substitute regular olive oil)

1 head romaine lettuce

1 pint cherry tomatoes 

3 kirby cucumbers

1/2 cup black olives

1 teaspoon digon mustard


Peel and thinly slice the red onion and put it in a small bowl. Add red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and dill and stir to combine. Set aside for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.


Drain any water from the feta and sprinkle with the chopped parsley and basil. Drizzle one tablespoon of the basil oil over the feta and set aside. 


Chop lettuce and wash and dry in a salad spinner with basil leaves. Place greens on a large platter. Add cherry tomatoes, halving the largest ones and add to platter. Peel and slice cucumber and add to platter. Remove pits from olives: this is done easily by pressing on them with your thumb to split them open, and add to salad. 


Remove onions from vinegar, reserving the vinegar mixture, and add to the salad. Add mustard to the vinegar and whisk to combine. Add remaining 5 tablespoons of basil oil and whisk. Add dressing to salad and toss to combine. Sprinkle feta cheese on top and serve. 


You can prepare all the components of this salad a half an hour in advance but do not add the dressing until ready to serve.


ode to basil


Our basil plants are growing faster than we can use them these days so we are thinking of all the ideas we can...pesto, basil chiffonade on sliced tomatoes, basil oil for salad dressings, basil simple syrup, etc. Luckily I have two fantastic helpers in the kitchen. 



BASIL PESTO (makes about 2 cups)

Blanching the basil keeps the pesto a nice bright green but if I am in a big rush, and am making pesto to use immediately, I sometimes skip this step -- the result is a pesto that turns brown quickly but is still delicious.


1 large bunch basil, stems discarded 

1/3 cup pine nuts

cup 1/3 grated parmesan cheese

1 cup  extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch basil leaves for 2-3 seconds or until they turn bright green and transfer immediately to an ice bath. Drain and squeeze out excess moisture. Our bunch of basil produced about 1 1/2 cups of blanched leaves. 


Place basil, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil in a blender and puree until combined but not totally smooth. Add salt and lemon juice and quickly blend to combine. If you are not using the pesto immediately store in an airtight container with a little olive oil drizzled over the surface.


If you really have tons of basil, and want to make several batches, you can also freeze it. For easy portioning when it is time to thaw it out try freezing in icecube trays. Once the cubes are solid transfer them to a ziploc freezer bag and just thaw a few cubes at a time.




Basil syrup makes the most delicious and refreshing basil citrus soda when combined with seltzer and the juice of a lemon or lime. Rather than the traditional 1:1 ratio of sugar to water we made a slightly less sweet version.

a few large sprigs of basil

2 cups sugar

3 cups water

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Boil gently for about 5 minutes then turn off burner and allow mixture to sit in pan for 30-40 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and chill before using.





2 cups basil leaves

2 cups olive oil

pinch salt

Blanch basil leaves in boiling water for a few seconds and immediately transfer to an ice bath. Dry on paper towels. Place in blender with oil and salt and puree. Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with a paper towel. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator.




Large leaves of basil can sliced into beautiful thin ribbons -- stack large leaves and roll into a tight bindle. Thinly slice crosswise. It makes a perfect topping for a sliced tomato salad or a garnish on top of pasta.