The herb garden has gone wild from the heat and rain showers. It’s bursting with more herbs than I can handle or possibly use. It’s like an herb party with too many rowdy guest showing up. So now is exactly the time to start cutting them back and letting them dry for winter cooking. This will both begin the supply of dried herbs and also encourage more growth during the next weeks of summer. Herbs are roughly divided into two categories, “hard” and “soft.” The soft herbs are herbs with soft stems, such as parsley and tarragon. The soft herbs are best used fresh; they’re fine dried, but they lose their magic, all the beguiling qualities that make them so powerful.Looking at my "soft" herbs, I seized the day and picked tarragon and parsley to dry, simply washing off the leaves and spreading them on tea towels laid on the counter for drying. Ruhlman says to spread them out in bowls for drying, so that must work too.
Candied herbs? Look at Shuna Lydon's post a few years back about how to infuse herbs into sugar. She has a way with words:
Custards could be infused but they must drape the tongue briefly and evaporate, smooth and silky. Like a well cut skirt: scissors glide through the grain of the fabric, not against it. An aroma is an elusive sensory experience. We embrace those we have known and loved forever and are comforted because they still smell the same as we remember.And now for the basil and Making Pesto to Freeze:
from Food Network:
Pesto to Freeze
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
I followed the directions, doubling the amounts:
- Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
- If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.
Several years ago I made this recipe. It is great for gift giving in mid winter, and it lasts in the freezer much longer than three months; don't hesitate to make several batches for those cold weather doldrums when you want to carbohydrate load. This pesto recipe is delicious with pasta and chicken.
PS: I decreased the olive oil slightly, and added the pecorino cheese into the processor while blending. Then remember to sprinkle heavily with more Parmesan or mozzeralla cheese as a finishing entree topper.