A while back I was sent a package with a window box, a mezzaluna and a pack entitled 5 ways with fresh living herbs by The Fresh Herb Company
I was invited to choose three herbs to grow in my window box and I went to my local supermarket and chose basil (can’t say that word without hearing Sybil from Fawlty Towers call her husband) chives and parsley and once in my box I must admit I was very pleased.
Next I was invited to use them in meals!
Details on winning the bamboo mezzaluna chopping board are at the bottom ;)
Now the beauty of the herbs I chose is the versatility of them, let’s take basil for instance, I make the girls pasta every day for lunch, it’s the Italian in me, and on the occasions I use my tomato sauce it is so easy to chop a bit of basil in it and give the sauce a whole new dimension. I have also made in the past a Lasagna al pesto which uses basil for the pesto and sustitutes the bolognaise sauce layer, it’s incredibly easy and is a delicious light summer meal.
Another of my favourite uses of basil is to make a crust topping for fish or chicken, I whizz up some breadcrumbs, add some pesto, parmesan and a drop of olive oil and coat the top of the salmon with the mixture and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. For the chicken, use a breast and cut a slit in the thickest part where you stuff your pesto mixture into. You can also add ricotta to the mixture, in fact there are many ways of changing this versatile recipe.
I’m a traditionalist at heart and the first use of chives in my kitchen is on spuds, take some new potatoes, boil them add a lick of butter yes it;s fattening but it’s also delicious and then cut some chives with scissors in tiny strips over the potatoes coorrrrr.
Then of course in a dip! Take a pot of sour cream and cut chives into it et voila’ you have a dip for your Pringles.
Then of course there are the fabulous food photos that make a dish come to life, look closer those green strips balancing on the tagliatelle are two chives, delicate and beautiful, in fact cut some into your tagliatelle sauce too along with some prawns, finely chopped tomato and a soupcon of garlic -to die for.
Where would any kitchen be without parsley? It has to be the most common of herbs but that doesn’t take anything away from it. Whether you use flat leaf of curly the taste is distinctive. who hasn’t bought some fish from the supermarket and found a sprig of parsley in there? :)
However let’s not knock parsley, you know when you get your pork chops from the supermarket, fry them in a pan with a little olive oil and add some finely chopped parsley to the pan. Make a salsa verde and serve with boiled meats like they do in Italy, add some to a plain white sauce, chop some into a couscous salad to add colour and of course decorate all your meals with a sprig :)
It’s all about getting used to using them, once you start you’ll discover millions of ways to keep using them and you’ll get more adventurous too.
Tips to look after fresh herbs at home
Basil – Keep basil on a saucer or in a small bowl in a bright draught free place, don’t put it in the fridge as the leaves will go black. Water sparingly when leaves start to wilt, by stressing the basil it will increase its essential oils and intensify flavour. Pick the leaves and tear them rather than cut them with a knife.
Chives – Keep on a saucer or in a small bowl in a bright draught free place, don’t put it in the fridge, water sparingly when plant starts to droop, snip off leaves as requireds, rinse under cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
Parsley – flat or curly – Keep on a saucer or in a small bowl in a bright draught free place, don’t put it in the fridge, water a little and often ie a teaspoon of water a day. Pick off leaves or sprigs as required, the stalks are full of flavour and perfect for sauces and stocks, rinse before using.
The Fresh Herb Company also sent me a mezzaluna bamboo chopping board which I haven’t used as I already have one so I’m puttint it up for grabs here all I’d like you to do is tell me your favourite way of using herbs in a comment below and the winner will be picked at random using random.org. Please make sure I have a way of contacting you – twitter handle/email
Disclosure – The Fresh Herb Company sent me the window box and a mezzaluna – which I didn’t use as I already have one. My aim was to do some cooking with herbs and take photos I did the cooking but I forgot the photos ;)
Competition closed winner is Jo Bryan thanks to all who entered