If you cook on the regular, you’ve probably been faced with a fresh herb-surplus. Gardeners know that herbs grow like, well, weeds—and those who purchase their sage, parsley, and thyme are often left with more than they need after using them for that one dinner recipe. Don’t let your herbs go wild in the soil or mold in the fridge. We’ve got 11 great ideas for using every last leaf, from the ridiculously easy (make a salad) to the seriously DIY (infuse an oil).
Spicy Lamb and Lentils with Herbs. Photo: Nicole Franzen
Make a Big Salad
If you love a big, green salad, it’s time to think beyond the romaine (or spinach, or arugula) and start adding fresh herbs to the mix. A lot of fresh herbs: We’re talking handfuls here. Stick with tender herbs like parsley, cilantro, chervil, tarragon, mint, and dill—save the woodier herbs, like sage and rosemary, for cooking. Rinse them clean, pat dry, then pull the leaves from the stems and add them, whole, to any salad. The big pieces of herb add a fresh note to greens, much like citrus zest. Go easy on the dressing—a light vinaigrette is a much better match for herbs than a creamy buttermilk ranch. Want to bulk it up? Cooked meat, like steak or sautéed ground lamb, and grains, like bulgur wheat, make it a meal.
Salted Meyer Lemon and Sage Pressé. Photo: Stephan Lewis
Cook a Simple Syrup
Add a big handful of fresh herbs to a basic mixture of equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil, stir, and then remove from the heat. Once completely cooled, strain out the herbs (discard), and use the simple syrup to sweeten iced coffee and tea, cocktails, and anything else your heart desires. Mint works well in a simple syrup, and we especially like rosemary syrup in our lattes—it’s an unexpected savory-sweet twist.
Creamy Herb Dressing. Photo: Yossy Arefi
Put ‘Em in a Salad Dressing
Fresh herbs are a perfect match for small-batch salad dressings and vinaigrettes. They round out the fatty and sharp flavors from the oil and vinegar (or citrus juice) with a vegetal note. A vinaigrette with fresh herbs will last for a week in the fridge before the herbs start to turn. Our picks for salad dressings are the pungent, assertive herbs, like chives. Anything goes, but be sure to chop them finely, so they mix into the dressing well.
Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette. Photo: Christina Holmes
Decorate a Savory Tart
We love a good savory tart, but let’s be honest: Even without the sugar, a dinner tart is a buttery, rich affair. Tossing torn fresh herbs, like dill, parsley, and oregano, over the top of a tart reins in some of the richness—not to mention makes it look nicer. Be sure the tart is cool before adding the herbs or they will wilt.
Chive Oil. Photo: Danny Kim
Infuse Some Oil
Never pay top dollar for a fancy flavored oil again. Infusing your own oil is as easy as blitzing fresh herbs with a neutral oil (don’t use potent EVOO; you don’t want the flavors of the oil to compete with the herbs), heating it slowly, then straining it through a sieve. It’ll keep in the fridge, and is perfect for salad dressings, drizzling over grilled meat and seafood, and as a dip for good bread.
Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter. Photo: Gentl & Hyers
Cook Up a Sauce
Melted butter poured all over seared scallops seems excessive. But brown that butter and toss in a few handfuls of fragrant herbs, like tarragon or sage, and we call that a sauce. Finish with a squeeze of lemon, some zest, or drizzle of vinegar to brighten the flavors. What else is good with an herby brown butter sauce? Uh, just about…everything.
Herbed Faux-tisserie Chicken. Photo: Gentl & Hyers
Rub Down a Chicken
Your garden’s (or supermarket’s) surplus is your chicken’s good fortune. Combine herbs with garlic, salt, and sugar for a homemade brine, use them to flavor a slow-roasted chicken, or take them to the grill for intensely flavored and smoky wings.
Zucchini-Herb Fritters. Photo: Christopher Testani
Add Them to Pancakes and Fritters
Fried foods need something fresh and green to bring them back from gut-bomb status. A shower of chopped fresh herbs over fried croquettes will do wonders (so will a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of citrus juice). Also excellent? Adding chopped herbs right into the batter.
Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto. Photo: Danny Kim
Give ‘Em a Whirl in the Food Processor
We don’t have to tell you twice that extra basil makes a fine pesto. But guess what? So does parsley. And cilantro. And mint. Also tasty: a chunky, puréed salsa verde chock-full of herbs. Use sturdier greens, like spinach or arugula, to bulk up the sauces, and skip the most potent herbs (sorry sage, you are not invited to this party).
Herb Butter. Photo: Christopher Testani
Make a Compound Butter
Finely chopped herbs easily mix into room-temperature butter, which can then be spread on bread, added to a fat steak as it rests, used to gussy up grilled clams, or used for cooking. Bonus: It freezes!
Dried herbs. Photo: Matt Duckor
Want to DIY your dried herbs? It’s easy: Just group them in small bunches, then tie them with twine or a rubber band and hang them upside down in a cool room with good circulation. Although they may look sweet in the kitchen, most kitchens are too warm to facilitate proper drying. Don’t tie the knot on your twine or string too tight—you will most likely need to tighten it as the herbs dry and shrink. Once fully dry (it will take a few days), store them whole in air-tight bags or crumble them and store in jars as ground herbs.
Ready, Set, Herb Salad!
from Bon Appétit http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/what-to-do-with-herbs