Monday, March 8, 2010

The Eat-Cute: What to do with ALL of those herbs?

On this week's edition of the Eat Cute, I thought it would be fun to see how to use up lots and lots of fresh herbs. Because it's winter now, I don't have an herb garden growing. During the spring and summer, I can just pick leaves as I need them. So, in the dreary depths of mid-winter, I had to break down and buy a big, expensive bundle of herbs from the grocery store. I hate doing this as the bundles are always just too big and I can never use it all up before it goes bad. I mean, there is a limit to how much parsley a girl can eat in a week. And it costs about as much as a whole packet of seeds would. But I digress.

What do you do with a huge bundle of parsley?

I bought the parsley for a recipe from the Herbs and Spices cookbook (as you might have's big on herbs). Nothing fancy, but I wanted a simple twist on the basic Sunday morning scrambled eggs. A few herbs later, I had Scrambled Eggs with Mushrooms and Parsley.  That's pretty much all it is - a few sauteed mushrooms with parsley, mixed into some eggs that have more parsley.

But here's the dilemma: I had to buy a whole bunch of parsley, when all I really needed was a few generous pinches of it.

That's when the next step comes in - find a recipe that uses herbs in a way that they can be preserved until I'm ready to eat them. Oh, and I get to talk about one of my favorite cookbooks in the process. I made garlic parsley butter. This recipe comes from Grilling: When there's Smoke There's Flavor, which is an amazing cookbook featuring recipes from around the world. The recipes show you how they can be grilled indoors or outdoors! The photographs are totally mouth-watering as well! I sneakily 'borrowed' it from my mom's collection, shh :)

Anyway, I've been wanting to try their herb butter recipes for years now, and this was the perfect opportunity.
  • Take the leftover herbs, a stick of softened butter, and add in anything else you want, like garlic, lime or lemon juice, hot peppers, blue cheese, olives, salt and pepper (not all at the same time - the one I made was just with lemon juice, garlic, and parsley). I think you could do any kind of theme here - maybe next time I will try an italian one with basil, oregano, and sun-dried tomatos, or a mojito version with lime juice and mint leaves.
  • Blend it. This is the part where I curse my old blender and wish I had a real food processor :) 
  • Roll it up in some foil into a cylinder
  • Freeze it
Aside from sticky butter fingers (literally!), it's quite easy and quick.The other cookbook I mentioned also has similar ideas, but the grilling cookbook has more simple versions. As a bonus, they give you recipe ideas on how to use your delicious butters. I'm guessing you could do this with other spreads too, like margarine, and hopefully they would freeze and defrost the same way.

There are tons of way to use up herbs - this is just one idea. Other ways involve making pestos and salad dressings, making scented oils and vinegars, making flavored vodka, drying them, freezing them, and so on. Personally though, I think the butters are a food that you can make super quickly AND keep for months at a time.

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