Favorite Herbs and Pesto

When I’m sharing a recipe, I always try to keep the novice cook in mind.  Why?  Because once upon a time I was one! You can read about one of my early cooking disasters here!  In this introduction to my favorite herbs, I did the same thing and I hope it helps.

Are you the type person that automatically grabs the salt shaker and sprinkles the food before even tasting it?  I have unnamed family members that do this (and add hot sauce to everything, but that’s another story).  I always tell them that it’s an insult to the chef (usually me) to salt food before tasting said food.

Several years ago I began to take note of the sodium content in canned and prepackaged goods and I was enlightened and dismayed at the copious amount of sodium found in these products.  I do try to eat whole foods most of the time so I set out to reduce the amount of salt in my family’s diet without giving them bland food. I amped up the herbs and added tons of flavor.  No one even noticed the reduction of salt.

Give me a choice and I always pick fresh herbs over dried, but fresh (and dried) herbs can be very expensive to buy.  And it’s so easy to grow your own!  I’m always excited each spring when it’s time to plant my little herb garden.  And my favorite must haves are Basil, Dill, Rosemary, Thyme and Cilantro.

I also plant Mint, but I plant it in containers all by itself because it will take over an herb garden. I have mint on the back deck and the front porch.  It’s a natural insect repellent!  It’s also used to flavor salads and drinks.  But I have to admit, I use it mostly to repel insects.  It really works!

Let’s take a look at these other basic herbs!

intro to basic herbs

Basil goes well with Italian dishes and is usually the main ingredient in pesto.  I’ve included my favorite pesto recipe at the end of this post.

Dill is tasty in pickles, salad dressings and homemade tartar sauce (my personal fave).  And dill is the perfect seasoning for fish.

Rosemary looks like a little tree and has a wonderful woodsy smell.  Rosemary adds great flavor to chicken, lamb, pork, salmon, tuna, soups and stews.

Thyme is a wonderful addition to vegetables and beans.  Thyme is also included in the French combination of herbs called bouquet garni, used to season soups and stews.

Cilantro is a herb used widely in Latin America, the Caribbean, the far east and in my kitchen.  Cilantro is my favorite herb!  It’s one of those herbs that you either love or hate – there is no in between.  My mom despises Cilantro.  The seed of the Cilantro plant is called Coriander. I always have Coriander in my spice drawer and it’s considered a spice and a herb.

When I use fresh herbs from my garden, I don’t snip them until I’m ready to use them. I just rinse, blot with a clean kitchen towel,  remove the leaves from the stems and chop the leaves.

When Storing Herbs:  Fresh herbs do not like moisture on their leaves. Wet herb leaves will turn slimy very quickly.  Never rinse fresh herbs until right before using. When purchasing fresh herbs from the market, this is how I store them:

Snip off a little bit from the bottom of the stem with your scissors (just like fresh flowers).

Place in a small jar of water with just the stems immersed (keep the leaves above the water).

Cilantro and Dill loves cooler temperatures and the jar should be stored in the fridge. Parsley can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge. Basil prefers room temperature.

Speaking of basil, here’s my very favorite pesto recipe.  I should call it presto pesto because it’s so easy to make.  But that’s quite a mouth full!

Pesto

 

easypesto

Pesto
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Combine basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add oil and process until smooth.
  3. Transfer to a serving dish and stir in cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
Pesto can be used in so many ways. Here's a few: Use on pizza or toss lightly with pasta. Spread on Italian bread slices for Bruschetta. Spoon a dab on top of sea scallops, steaks and baked potatoes before serving.

Also, I rarely add salt to my pesto. I think the Parmesan cheese adds enough salt and flavor.

As I mentioned earlier, one of my favorite herbs is Cilantro.  Herbs I don’t particularly care for are fennel (tastes like black licorice) and parsley.

I’ve never tried an indoor herb garden.  Have you?  It’s on my list of things I want to do.

What’s your favorite and least favorite herb?

About Alli

Southern, Morning Person, Jesus Girl, Frugal Party Planner, Writer/Blogger, Mom, Nana, Wife, Beach Bum Wannabe - Let's Have a Party!

Comments

  1. I grow herbs too, but I never knew how to properly store them fresh. I just dried them right away. I’m going to try this, this spring and summer!
    Amanda Smith recently posted…Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?My Profile

  2. I love that you listed the uses for all these basic ingredient. When I was first learning how to cook I would have LOVED to have a list like this.
    Andrea @ thedistractedhousewife recently posted…What’s Going On Wednesday: …What’s That a Picture Of?My Profile

  3. I love pesto – this looks awesome. My favorite herbs are some of the same ones you mentioned. I tried growing some herbs and it was an epic fail – maybe I should try again. Thanks for all the tips on how to store herbs – I’m pretty sure I’ve done that wrong, too!!
    Kim recently posted…A Happy HeartMy Profile

  4. Pinned it for the summer when Basil will be in abundance. So looking forward to it! Thank you for the recipe!

  5. This post is right on time for me. We are growing our own little herb garden this year for the first time! I have already Pinned this to my Yard and Garden board but am going to Pin it again to my Good Eats board for that yummy looking Pesto!
    Shirley @ Intelligent Domestications recently posted…Repurpose Milk Jugs & 2 Liter Bottles for Winter Seed SowingMy Profile

Speak Your Mind

*

Rate this recipe:  

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.