Now, I know fresh herbs are so expensive. I can't tell you how many times I used a portion of fresh herbs in a dish and then ended up throwing some away. However, I just read a really good tip on how to prevent this. Take a few minutes to freeze them! I never thought about this....puree them in a blender with a small amount of water. Pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer bag. (Remember to label it!). Then when you are ready to use the herb, just drop a frozen cube or two directly into a pot of soup or sauce, or whatever it is you are making. Obviously, this will only work while using herbs in cooking. But I thought this was a great idea!! Let me share some information on a few of my favorite herbs:
Parsley: Rich in iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, potassium and calcium. What's more, parsley is known for its cancer-fighting potential. In herbal medicine, it is used as a diuretic and is used for treating kidney and bladder inflammation, irritable bladder and edema. So, eat your parsley!! Sprinkle on any kind of salads, I put it in my soups, in my bean burger mixtures, etc. It gives whatever you are using it in a "fresh" taste.
Cilantro: Cilantro is said to be the most consumed fresh herb in the world, more than double all other fresh herbs combined, because so many cultures cook with it...Chinese, Asian, Indian, African and Latin cuisines. Cilantro is a very good source of fiber, Vitamins A, C, E and K, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese. It's also a good source of thiamin and zinc. Can you imagine...all these vitamin and minerals in that little herb....However, I find people either love cilantro or hate it...I LOVE IT!!
Basil: Where would Italian cooking be without basil? Basil is really fragrant and one of the most recognizable fresh herbs out there. It is usually green, but there are some varieties that can be red or purple. There are more than 60 varieties, all of which differ in appearance and taste. The flavor of sweet basil, (the most common found in our markets), is bright and pungent; other varieties such as lemon (really good), anise and cinnamon have flavors that reflect their names. Basil is a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium zinc, copper and manganese. It is also a good source of protein, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin.
Who knew all the health benefits available to us from these little leaves packed with so much flavor?
SWEET POTATO PUFFS
1/4 c millett
1 1/2 c water
5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small stalk celery, with leaves, sliced thinly
1 carrot, scrubbed and grated
1/4 t dried basil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the millet in a saucepan with 3/4 c of water. Cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes, or until softened. Meanwhile, steam the sweet potatoes until soft, about 15 minutes. Mash them well.
- Saute the garlic, onion, celery and carrot in the remaining 1/2 c of water until tender, about 7 minutes. Combine the millet, potatoes, vegetables and basil, mix well.
- Drop the mixture by the tablespoons onto a nonstick baking sheet, being careful not to flatten the puffs. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
SAUTEED ITALIAN ZUCCHINI
1/4 c water
1 clove garlic, minced
5-6 small zucchini, trimmed and sliced
2 T soy sauce
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried basil
Put the water and garlic in a pan. Add the remaining ingredients. Saute, stirring occasionally, until softened but not mushy, about 10 minutes.
TASTY BLENDER SALSA
1 15-16 oz can whole tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded, stem removed
Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Serve with burritos, baked pita chips, etc.