Fresh herbs will last longer if stored properly in your refrigerator. The best way to keep fresh herbs is to store them upright in a glass with a small amount of water. With a sharp knife, trim the ends, insert in water, and cover loosely with a plastic bag to prevent wilting. Fresh basil is very sensitive, so if you have cold spots in your refrigerator, avoid those areas since the basil will turn brown quickly. Basil can also be stored in a plastic bag in the produce bin of your fridge. It will also brown if crushed by heavier vegetables, so put it on top of your veggie bin.
Snow Peas: These tender peas can be eaten whole, and are delicious fresh, steamed, sautéed, or added to stir fries. Peas pair well with sesame oil, butter, dill, chives, parsley, basil, mint, garlic, shallots, and asparagus. Peas are best used fresh but if you need to store them, put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Peas do require you to remove the strings from their pods. With a sharp knife or your fingers, break the stem end and lift the string that binds the pea like a zipper, and pull down to the blossom end. Very small peas do not need to be strung.
Epazote is a Latin American herb that comes with a very distinct smell and taste. Its smell can be unappealing when raw, but will soften with cooking. Also known as wormseed and Mexican tea, epazote derives from the Nahuatl work epatzotl (epatl meaning “skunk” and tzotl meaning “dirty), which is descriptive of its wild taste. In traditional herbal medicine, epazote is recommended for dispelling gastrointestinal worms and used as a tea to help with flatulence. In cooking, epazote is typically used as a whole stems or just the freshly chopped leaves that adds a distinct flavor to Mexican and Caribbean food. It is best used fresh but can be dried; hang upside down in a cool, dark, well ventilated spot. Once dried, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 6 months. Epazote can be used dried or fresh for tea and is a requirement for cooking beans to add flavor and testing its legendary power to make beans more digestible. Whole stems can also be added to braising meat dishes or a nice addition to tortilla soup.
Storing greens for winter use…. For any of you feeling overwhelmed with greens, both kale and Swiss chard can be frozen well for winter cooking. To freeze greens, they will need to be blanched and shocked. Put on a big pot of salted boiling water and get a large bowl of ice water ready. With a sharp knife, cut out the stem from each leaf, discarding the stem or save for use in stock. Stack several leaves, roll into a cigar shape and coarsely chop. When water comes to boil, add greens and cook for 1mintue. If working with a lot of greens, blanch in smaller batches. With a slotted spoon or strainer, remove greens and put immediately into ice bath. This stops the cooking process and keeps the bright green color. Drain well, squeeze out any excess liquid, and store in Ziploc bags, pushing out all air and sealing tightly. Frozen greens will keep for several months, making a great addition to winter soups, stews, quiches, or pasta dishes.
Potato Salad with Corn and Red Pepper (serves 4-6)
A lighter version of the classic summer salad, this recipe does not use mayonnaise but feel free to add some for a creamy dressing. The corn can be grilled instead, adding a smoky flavor to the salad. This salad would be great made ahead and left in the fridge for the flavors to combine. Serve this light potato salad with mixed greens, grilled salmon, or any grilled meats. Courtesy of Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings by Edward Espe Brown.
2 ears of corn, about 1 ½ cup kernels
1 ½ pounds gently scrubbed new potatoes, medium, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored and julienned
¼ cup olive oil
4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons vinegar (red wine, white wine, tarragon, or apple cider)
Salt and black pepper
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, whole leaves removed from stems
If not grilling the corn whole, remove kernels from cob and set aside. In a large pot cover cubed potatoes with cold salted water and bring to a boil. Gently boil until tender, about 7 to 10 minutes. When done to your liking, add the raw corn kernels and cook for 1 minute. Drain well and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
Briefly sauté the red peppers in heated olive oil for a minute or so, add the green onion and garlic, and continue cooking for another minute or two. Combine the cooked ingredients with the potatoes and corn, tossing well. Season with vinegar, salt, and pepper and toss well. Taste and adjust oil, vinegar, salt, or pepper.
Pistou (makes approximately 2 cups)
From Splendid Soups by James Peterson, this classic French sauce is a salt spiked taste of summer so it is best with grilled meats, tossed with pasta, used as pizza sauce, or stirred into the classic French soupe au pistou. This will hold for couple of weeks in the refrigerator or it can also be frozen well.
A mix of basil and parsley can be used for this recipe. Blanching and shocking tomatoes is the easiest way to peel them. With a paring knife, make a shallow ‘X’ cut on the base of the tomato and cut out the core. Prepare an ice bath. Drop tomatoes into boiling water and let cook until peel starts to fold back or split, 1 to 2 minutes. Drop into ice bath, let cool, and remove peels with paring knife.
8 garlic cloves
2 bunches fresh basil or parsley, stems removed, about 2 cups tightly packed leaves
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 medium sized tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup olive oil
In a food processor or blender, add the tomatoes first and then remaining ingredients except olive oil. (Tomatoes go in first to provide liquid to get the dry mixture moving around.) Blend at high speed for about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in olive oil until well combined. The olive oil can be drizzled in to the blended mixture while the blender is running for a more emulsified sauce but some cooks believe blending olive oil gives it a bitter taste.