Freezing: The easiest way to handle herbs it to simply put them in zippered plastic bags (wash the herbs well and remove the tough ends; whether you chop them or not is up to you). Basil should be blanched for about a minute before it’s frozen or it will turn black; the others don’t need it) though their color will be brighter if you do). When they’re thawed, they’ll be crumbly and should be treated like dry herbs.
Drying: Simply tie a bunch with a string or ribbon and hang upside down in a dry spot (keep away from drafts, cooking fumes, and extreme cold). When they’re completely dry, crumble them and store in a glass jar with a tight cover. If you need to protect your drying herbs from dust or animals, place them in a plastic bag before tying them.
Microwaving: You can dry herbs in a microwave oven in a matter of seconds; just remember that if you leave them for a second too long, you’ll find a pile of ash or possibly a blazing bouquet. Spread the herbs on a paper towel and cover with another paper towel (dry about a cupful at a time). Microwave on high for 40 seconds; check and repeat for 5 seconds at each try, until the herbs are dry and crumbly. After the first round, don’t let it go for more than five seconds at a time.
2 1/2 loosely packed cups fresh basil, parsley, mint, chives, dill, cilantro, or any combination
(Note: If you want to use stronger herbs like rosemary, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, or oregano, limit yourself to a tablespoon per batch and make up the bulk with parsley, basil, dill, or another less-intense herb.)
1 small garlic clove, or to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts or roughly chopped walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil, or to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Combine the herbs with a pinch of salt, the garlic, nuts, and about half the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually. At this point, the pesto can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to several months. Wait to add the cheese until after you have defrosted the pesto, or add it to the food processor or blender to taste.
And to quick ways to fix cabbage (besides your 4th of July coleslaw)
1 pound carrots, sliced ½ inch thick
2 tablespons butter
½ cup minced onion
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ cup dry white wine
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
½ cup minced fresh basil (or more if desired)
salt and pepper to taste
Steam carrots 6-7 minutes, until tender-crisp; drain. Heat butter in skillet until foamy; add onion and saute until softened Add carrots, lemon zest, wine and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice; stir and cook until most of the liquid is reduced, about 2 minutes. Add basil, salt, pepper and additional lemon juice to taste and remove from heat. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings.
4 small zucchini, ends trimmed*
4 small yellow summer squash, ends trimmed*
2 small eggplants, ends trimmed
2 medium-sized onions (about 1 pound total), ends trimmed
½ cup herb-flavored oil (recipe follows) or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Yellow squash and zucchini can be interchanged depending on the quantities of each you have received in your CSA box
Cut the zucchini and yellow squash in half lengthwise. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into roughly ¼-inch-thick slices. Cut the onion crosswise into ¼-inch-thick round slices.
Brush the vegetables all over with the herb-flavored oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let the vegetables sit at room temperature to absorb the flavor from the oil for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Set up a barbecue grill or grill pan and preheat to medium.
Grill the vegetbles, turning once, until they are tender-crisp and lightly brown, 8 to 10 minutes total (the vegetables will continue to cook for a minute or two after being removed from the grill). Serve hot or at room temperature.
1 cup fresh basil
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
Fill a large bowl of water with ice cubes and set it aside Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the basil leaves and blanch them, 15 seconds or so. Immediately drain the basil in a sieve, then plunge it into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the herb again and squeeze it dry in a clean dish towel or paper towels.
Transfer the herb leaves to a blender or mini food processor. Add the olive oil and blend for 1 minute.
Let the herb oil sit at room temperature until the flaor develops, about 1 hour. Then strain the oil through a sieve, pressing down on the solids to extract all the liquid from them before discarding.
Oil will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 10 days.