Herbs: Think of Them as Teeny Vegetables

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Before pesto reached the shores of America, every “fancy” dish in this country carried a sprig of parsley, and for all but a very few of us, that was the extent of our acquaintance with herbs. It was Paula Peck, author of the once-invaluable and now-quaint “The Art of Good Cooking,” who brought to my attention the notion that parsley could play a better, more varied role in cooking if you used it by the handful.

Several years later, pesto filed its immigration papers, gardening became a little more popular and cooking evolved to a more interesting state. But herbs remain underrated. We add some thyme to stews, we’ve learned that there’s no such thing as too much basil, parsley is recognized for its flavor and all but the genetically twisted appreciate cilantro. (A joke; some of my best friends think it tastes like soap.) But for the most part we are rather restrained in our use of the potent green things.

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Posted in Produce

Minty Green Tea Granita

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By Freya Bellin

If you’re looking for a way to break the heat this summer, a granita just may be the answer. The beauty of a granita is that it’s sort of a shaved ice/slushie hybrid. It crackles into crunchy, icy layers that can be eaten with a spoon, or melted a little and slurped through a straw. It’s incredibly refreshing, easy to make, and will definitely cool you down. The granita melts quickly, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you’ll just end up with some sweet iced tea at the bottom. There are endless combinations of ingredients for flavorings – you could skip the tea and just use lemon and mint, or you could add some berries to the steeping step, or serve it with fresh berries. Regardless, this is sure to be a new summer favorite. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Cocktails

Pureed White Beans with Tons of Fresh Herbs

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By Freya Bellin

In making this recipe, I was reminded to never underestimate the power of fresh herbs. I went with a mix of pretty much every herb listed below (parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, tarragon, thyme), and despite my concerns that the flavors might clash, everything came together. The leeks and herbs made my kitchen smell like a garden, and the color is gorgeous. Cannellini beans make a great base for this dish. They’re very creamy but relatively neutral in flavor, so they take well to the herbs and leeks. The result was earthy and fresh—not to mention quite versatile.  As noted below, you could serve this dish with fish or chicken (you may want a chunkier, hand-mashed consistency for that), or you can puree it and use it as a topping for crostini, as I did. And I will admit to just eating it by the spoonful as well.

After a quick taste-test, I decided to add just about a tablespoon or 2 of lemon juice (about 1/3 of a fresh lemon) to the mixture. The citrus really brightened up the flavors and gave it a nice zing at the end. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Recipes, Vegan

Spicing Up Butter––With Herbs

By Cathy Erway

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Before we get into the how, let’s talk about why you should make herbed butter. Herbs grow, a lot. It seems a shame not to enjoy their zingy, full flavors while they’re at their prime these hot months. Yes, you can dry out the leaves and use them all year, but this usually weakens or at least alters their flavor.

And I’m not saying don’t make tub after tub of pesto, but maybe your freezer is full of those already. You could even make a tincture, or try your hand at homemade perfume. But if you like to make bread, or serve it at dinner, then it’s fun to have a host of flavored butters on hand. And chopping up herbs, storing them in fat — butter — preserves their flavor, even stretches it, as it’ll permeate the whole glob. Continue reading

Posted in Farming

But is it Art?

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by Kerri Conan

Its name is herb. Tarragon to be exact. And when I saw this announcement of his (or is it her?) second appearance as an object of art, I thought “ugh.”  

Talk about fetishizing. How about just eating the stuff? As raising, cooking, eating—and talking about—food becomes more popular, are we actually making it too precious and less approachable? Continue reading

Posted in Farming, Food Politics, Uncategorized