August 11, 2010

Summer Food Fest- HERBS

This week's Summer Food Fest is Herbs, Beans and Greens.
Right now my garden is slowing down, zucchini have pretty much stopped. The eggplant is still producing and am waiting for my watermelon to ripen.

But like any good Italian, my herb garden is flourishing. I adore herbs and have the traditional:
rosemary, sage, basil, oregano and thyme. I also planted tarragon, which is used near Siena, chives and brought dill from America. Growing wild, I can gather fennel pollen now, which is very expensive to buy and also nepitella, called catmint, used with porcini mushrooms.

Most herbs I just walk out and cut when I need them, but often dried herbs are called for in recipes.

But the one recipe I always teach in my classes, is how to create your own Tuscan Herb Blend.

Rosemary, sage, garlic and sea salt is all you need to create this incredible blend which will keep in your kitchen all year long.

Fresh rosemary
(Rosmarino marino is the plant of the kitchen. Don't use the landscaping variety because it has resin on the branches.)
Fresh sage
Fresh garlic, sliced
Sea salt
(fine not coarse)

Remove the rosemary needles from the branches and the sage leaves from the stems. I use about 1 cup of rosemary needles, 1/2 cup of sage leaves, and 2 garlic cloves.

Spread out the herbs on a cutting board, add the garlic, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sea salt.

Using a mezzaluna or large knife, chop in a rocking motion until the herb mixture is almost a powder. If the mixture seems too wet, add another teaspoon of salt. Spread the mixture on a cutting board and let dry over night.

The Tuscan herb mixture can be kept in a tightly sealed jar on your shelf. It does not need to be refrigerated.

Try creating your own blends! Change the proportions of the herbs; add thyme, lemon peel, orange rind, fennel seeds or, if you're lucky enough to have some, fennel pollen. Be creative!

When using this mixture, remember that it already has salt.

The same basic recipe can be used to stuff a porchetta.

Try this incredible easy recipe for an eye of round, Arrosto Fiorentino from Dario Cecchini

This week's Summer Fest entries

White on Rice Couple use fresh mint to make homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Nicole at Pinch My Salt features Green Beans with Balsamic Browned Butter.
Margaret at A Way to Garden stores a year of herb and makes one-pot Farinata a polenta dish with greens.
Food Network UK is on the edge with herbs and greens.
Caroline at the Wright Recipes is cooking up Wax and Butter Bean Herbed Salad.
Jennifer and Mark at Gilded Fork have a virtual garden of recipes
The Best Bean Salads and a French Take on Greens, Beans and Herbs from the Cooking Channel
Top 6 Herbs from Healthy Eats
Leftover Herb Solution (Pesto!) from Allison at Food2
Recipes for The "Other" Summer Greens from the FN Dish
Kelly at Just a Taste -Makes Fresh Herb Ricotta
Caron at San Diego Foodstuff talks about Kale and Feta Empanadas and roasted Romano beans
Alana at Eating From the Ground Up has shirred eggs with fresh herbs 

Shauna and Danny at Gluten Free Girl and the Chef:
Tigress in a Jam has a preserving–book giveaway, and ways to put up greens, beans, herbs.
Cate O’Malley at Sweetnicks:
Tara at Tea and Cookies:

Now It's Your Turn!
This collaborative effort won't be much fun without you! The more info we all give, the more we'll all enjoy summer's harvest. Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting with our posts of Wednesday, July 28, for five Wednesdays through 8/25 and possibly longer, you can contribute in various ways, big or small.

  • Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:
  • Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog any upcoming Wednesday, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and then we're all cooking with some great ideas. Or go big: Publish entire posts of your own if you wish, and grab the big red tomato Summer Fest 2010 badge above (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites). We'll also be tweeting using #summerfood as our hashtag. Here's the schedule:
  • 7/28: cukesnzukes
  • 8/4: corn
  • 8/11: herbs, greens, and beans
  • 8/18: stone fruit
  • 8/25 tomatoes
  • more to come if we all want it — stay tuned!