Monday, July 13, 2009
Gathering fresh herbs to add to a meal is a wonderful Summertime treat ~ I love brushing past spearmint with its pungent and sweet scent, rubbing rosemary sprigs between my fingers, crushing lavender buds to release their essential oils, snipping oregano and thyme - the variations and combinations are endless - that is where creativity with fresh herbs come into play. Of course there are are the classics like Herbes de Provence or a bouquet garni, but try using whichever herbs you like most. I tend to use bay leaves, thyme, cilantro, basil, rosemary and parsley a lot. Adding fresh herbs to grain and bean casseroles makes them savoury and delicious. Marinating tofu or tempeh with herbs gives them a spark. Make a herby focaccia bread~any herbs (try tarragon!) with garlic is great. Making herb-butter is easy- just soften butter, mash with your fresh herbs, shape into a roll in waxed paper and keep in the fridge. When cooking, just slice a bit off for new potatoes, steamed veggies or tofu. I always add fresh herbs to both salads and dressings and when making croutons or pasta salad. Bees absolutely love herbs that are allowed to flower in the garden - I always leave oregano, marjoram and sage to flower for the bees. And of course if you're lucky enough to have a few tomato plants ripening, fresh basil for bruschetta is to die for. If you don't have a garden you can grow herbs in a sunny place in a window box: use a soil (vs peat) based compost mix, and feed with a sea-weed plant food March - September. Check here for box basics: http://www.herbcompanion.com/gardening/garden-spaces-joyful-windows.aspx Recipes: From Eat, Drink and be Vegan~ Quinoa Confetti Casserole: 1 and 1/4 cups uncooked quinoa 1 cup veg. stock 2 cups water 1 and 1/2 cups chickpeas 1 and 1/2 cups fennel bulb 1 cup red bell pepper 3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 T. olive oil 1 t. fennel seeds 1 T. fresh basil 1 T. fresh rosemary 1 t. fresh thyme 1 t. sea salt pinch allspice 1 fresh or dried bay leaf freshly ground black pepper to taste 2 - 3 T. fresh lemon juice (for finishing) 2 T. olive oil (for finishing) fresh parsley for garnish Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a lightly oiled deep casserole dish, combine all ingredients except lemon juice, oil for finishing and parsley) and stir to combine well.Cover and bake 55- 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is cooked and has absorbed all liquid. Remove from over, stir in lemon juice, and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. To serve, drizzle a touch of olive oil on top and sprinkle with parsley. From Veganomicon: Marinated Italian Tofu 1 pound tofu, pressed 1/2 cup white wine 2 T. olive oil 2 T. balsamic vinegar 2 T. tamari 2 T. lemon juice 2 cloves garlic, smashed fresh basil, marjoram and thyme preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. cut the tofu widthwise into eight equal pieces. marinate for an hour, flipping after 30 mins. Place the tofu on a baking sheet and bake for 20 mins. Flip over and bake for another 10 mins. Place under the broiler for about 3 more mins. for extra chewiness.