Need Flavor? Try DIY Herbing!

herbed-cream-goat-cheese‘Tis the season for fresh herbs! Whether you grow them or buy them, herbs are a quick and easy way to add pizzazz to your summer dishes. Just snip the leaves with a pair of kitchen shears or mince them with a sharp knife – you generally want to avoid using the stems since they can be woody and tough – and add your fragrant flavors to sauces, dressings, salads, and dips.  Or you can add them to various dairy products to make intensely herbed butters and cheeses.  You can buy pre-herbed versions, sure, but the pre-herbed stuff can’t compare to one that’s made fresh on the spot.  Besides, you might want minted butter for your simmered carrots or basiled cream for your alfredo dishes, and good luck finding those options on the shelf! But DIY herbing knows no boundaries.

For my herbed treat, I chose to snip off some fresh chives, dill, and summer savory to stir into my creamy goat cheese.  You could choose that combination, too, or you might want to blend minced rosemary, oregano, and basil into softened butter.  Or perhaps simmer some whole milk or cream with lavender for 10 minutes, then strain out the lavender and use the herbed milk or cream in tea, with fruit, or in baked goods.  Which herbs you use in what doesn’t really matter – the only trick is to make sure that the herbs are minced (unless you’re using them as a steeping flavor to be removed) and that whatever you’re putting the herbs in is soft/liquid enough to accept them.

And if the added flavor weren’t enough of an incentive, ultra-fresh herbs are also ultra-high in micronutrients.  We’re talking antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, even compounds that have antibacterial and antiviral properties.  And did you know that basil and mint are especially high in those much-sought-after omega 3 fats?  Talk about even more of a reason to enjoy pesto!*  So if you haven’t planted your garden yet, put some herbs into your pots, or if you’re not much of a gardener, check out the fresh herb section of your local market.


* Assuming that the pesto is also made with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh pine nuts; refined oil like canola oil, soybean oil, and anything-except-extra-virgin olive oil won’t confer the same benefits that extra-virgin olive oil will.  Fresh pine nuts are also a much better bet than old ones that have gone rancid and are starting to taste bitter and “off” rather than creamy and a little sweet.

Courtesy of Cultured Cook.

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