Today on Good Things Utah

Herbs are loaded with antioxidants. Because plants take in a TON of oxygen through photosynthesis, those herbs need to have compounds in place to prevent the oxygen from causing their natural oils to go rancid – the sole purpose of antioxidants. Therefore, virtually any leafy herb is going to have a lot of antioxidants in it, as the leaf is where photosynthesis takes place. As a general rule, the darker the leaf the more antioxidants.

The lineup of herbs in my garden:

SWEET BASIL – GREAT in salads, on sandwiches instead of lettuce, paired with tomatoes, in a pesto or on pizza. There are number of natural oils that occur in basil, and the different ratios of oil is one of the key differences between different varieties. For example, sweet basil isn’t sweeter than cinnamon basil, it just has more linalool -a floral “sweet” tasting oil. You may have heard chef’s talking about making an herb “bloom” by putting it in oil. Basil is extremely delicate, and putting it in oil will just degrade the flavor.

ROSEMARY- the antioxidant powerhouse, absolutely loaded with antioxidants, not to mention anti-carcinogen properties. Rosemary is a little more resilient so it goes very well with chicken, steak, and pork. When I’m making a savory bread I’ll include a little rosemary in the dough. Rosemary does bloom well in oil, in fact most of rosemary’s flavors transfer into oil with minimal effort.

SAGE – This is another antioxidant power house. It goes well with cured meats, popovers, fish, chicken saltimbocca, stuffing. (I like to put sage leaves on the outside of a sandwich before I clamp down a sandwich press. The press both seals the sage to the bread, and crisps it up to create a great flavor and texture).

OREGANO – a MUST have for spaghetti sauce, also pretty hearty. I planted oregano a couple of years ago, and it comes back every year

TARRAGON – don’t make soup without it. The rich licorice flavor of fresh Tarragon adds incredible depth to virtually any soup. Just be sure to crush the Tarragon before you add it to break down the cell walls and release the flavor into your soup.

CHIVES – They do SO much more than just baked potatoes. Try them minced in potato salad, with a salad, in biscuits (I’ll occasionally make a corn meal pancake with chives that is to die for). I also keep these on hand as the long slender green herbs make a great garnish.

When substituting fresh herbs for dry herbs, times the amount of dry herbs by 3.

I’ve had quite a few emails asking for the recipes we used today on Good Things Utah while talking about the beauty of using fresh herbs.

So here goes:

Tomato, Basil, and Goat Cheese:

I’ll plead guilty on the appetizer in that I didn’t write down how much of each ingredient I used to make them. But a good rough estimate is 4 roma tomatoes, 1 cup balsamic vinegar, reduced to 1/4th cup, some fresh basil and some goat cheese (very specific, I know).

Cut roma tomatoes in half and roast them in the oven at 200 degrees for 45 minutes on a cookie sheet. While the tomatoes are roasting, put balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan and reduce over low heat until it’s syrupy.

Once the tomatoes and vinegar are cool, cut the tomatoes into bite sized pieces, add a little goat cheese and a small basil leaf, then drizzle the concoction with the balsamic reduction and spritz with a teeny tiny amount of olive oil.

If I was serving it as an appetizer, I’d put it on a crostini or a nice cracker.

Strawberry Rosemary Puree:
1 cup strawberries
1/4 cup carrot juice
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs fresh minced rosemary

Blend all ingredients until smooth, serve chilled.

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