August 3, 2011

Using Fresh Herbs

Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Chives and many more are all easy to grow and will flavor your meals so much more than a store bought version.  Many will reseed or simply remain evergreen throughout the year so once you've planted your herb garden you are set for years to come.  Drying or freezing your herbs now will yield yummy recipes when the weather turns.  At my old house I had a Rosemary plant so big you could not get your arms around it and it had the most beautiful blooms each fall.  I've not found just the right spot to grow it here.  Or could it be as Rosemary lore has it that "in the house where rosemary thrives, the women of that house are its strength."  I lived in that house most of the years single (after a divorce).  I faced many challenges and did a lot of growing up.  
A couple of my favorite uses for Rosemary are to use it in the bath with hot water and Epsom salt to soothe sore muscles.  This is especially useful after working in the garden.  And the other is to use as a rub for bread on the grill.

Rosemary Bread

  • Prep Time - frozen bread must be thawed completely - follow package directions


  • Frozen loaf bread (I like to use the whole loaf vs. the dinner rolls, the kind that you buy in the frozen section and let rise, sorry I can't think of the brand)
  • Fresh Rosemary chopped roughly
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Coarsely Cracked Pepper 


Once bread has thawed and is at room temp, pull and stretch the bread until it becomes thin and flat, similar to a pizza dough. Place the dough on a flat surface and rub with olive oil, sprinkle with pepper and rosemary and allow it rest for a short time (10-15 min).  Proceed to hot grill.  Spray the grill surface with a non stick spray.  Lay the dough across the grill and cook on both sides.  Serve warm.

This house, though only five houses away, sits at a different direction and receives much more sun especially in the backyard.  Therefore, I have much more room for a herb garden and have been very successful with Basil.  

Basil supposedly derives its name from the terrifying basilisk -- a half-lizard, half-dragon creature with a fatal piercing stare according to Greek mythology. The medicinal application of a basil leaf was considered to be a magical cure against the look, breath or even the bite of the basilisk. Although this story moved into the realm of fable, basil was still considered a medicinal cure for venomous bites.   I just love the way it smells and tastes.

Basil Pesto

  • Prep time: 10 minutes


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor.  If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.  Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve with pasta, add to spaghetti sauce, spread over toasted baguette slices or as a spread over a nice cheese.

Makes 1 cup.  This also freezes well for later use.  If you are making to freeze, you might omit the cheese as some think it doesn't freeze as well (adding it in when ready to use).

You can make many variations of Pesto using different, herbs, vegetables and nuts.  Try experimenting with your own.

You can find more of my ramblings at Red Dog Barkery

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Thanks for the recipes! I can always use more for Rosemary.