Horror of the herbs

Fresh Herbs are probably one of my biggest items of food waste.  I’ve tried to grow my own but I’m not very green fingered and a top floor flat with no outside space, doesn’t seem to provide optimal growing conditions.

Where possible I try to substitute fresh herbs for dried but for lots of recipes dried herbs just don’t quite cut it. The shelf life of shop bought fresh herbs is extremely short and I find the packaged quantities just far too large to use up in one meal. More often than not, on my weekly clean up of the fridge, there’s normally some black coriander or some shrivelled parsley that’s headed for the bin.

I’ve got quite good at making pesto, a great use for left over basil.  There’s also a whole variety of  other condiments and dressings that can be made from various herbs. Fresh herbs can be mixed with oils to create marinades for meat or added to dairy products such as butter and cream for a bit of a twist.

Despite these ideas I still manage to incur an abundance of throw away herbs each month and so I decided to turn to the internet to research what other options are available. It transpires that there’s a whole host of ways to extend the life of herbs. You can freeze them, dry them, infuse oils with them and so on…all ideas I’d never have thought of. Hey, there’s even websites dedicated solely to care and storage of fresh herbs.

These ideas aren’t my own but there’s so many websites, including wikihow that show you how to do all of the above ideas. I think my preferred option is the freezing idea and although this takes away freshness and means that the herbs can’t be used for garnishes, I imagine that the herbs would still taste fantastic mixed into many dishes.

So after a little bit of googling I now have many herby experiments to try and can hopefully reduce my food waste even further. I’d be really interested to know if anyone’s tried or tested the freezing of herbs, or better still if any readers out there have any additional ideas of how to use up these pesky leftovers?

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Grilled Halloumi and Cherry Tomatoes with Mint Pesto

Despite the packaging on the Basil clearly reading “keep me away from the cold”, the packet of Basil had ended up squished in the bottom of the fridge past it’s prime, alongside a few sprigs of floppy mint and some wrinkly cherry tomatoes.

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Normally when I have left over Basil, I make myself some home-made pesto and as I only had a few sprigs of mint left, I decided to throw them in. I’ve never made any other pesto other than bog standard pesto but I’ve heard adding mushrooms, mint and a whole other host of ingredients can create great variations on the original.

I couldn’t remember the correct measurements so I just threw all the herbs into a blender with two tbsps of toasted pine-nuts, a crushed garlic clove and a good glug of olive oil. I always find pesto takes a while to blend, during the blending I gave the mix an occasional stir and gradually added more olive oil until I was happy with the consistency.

After I tipped the mix out of the blender for a taste test, I discovered my hap hazard approach to pesto making had led to me missing out a vital ingredient…parmesan.

Not wanting to re-blend, I just added grated parmesan to the finished product (probably not how the Italians do it but hey-ho it tasted pretty good).image-3image-4

 The best thing about making any paste from fresh herbs, is that it pro-longs the life of the herbs and can be used for a huge variety of dishes such as pasta sauces, meat marinades or salad dressings.

I decided to go for the old BBQ classic of grilled halloumi and cherry tomatoes, a proper recipe for which can be found at bonappetit.com.

As I didn’t have a BBQ, or any skewers, I continued with my hap hazard approach to cooking by throwing halloumi and cherry tomatoes into an oven-proof dish, and whacked them underneath the grill for 5 minutes before mixing with the pesto.

And hey presto,  a few wrinkly past their best ingredients created a great dish that can be eaten as an appetizer or lightish supper/salad.

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