Chervil, tarragon, parsley, coriander, garlic shoots…. of course there are others but these are my favourites. Tarragon is the new comer in early spring; the others are plentiful all winter but now are growing faster than ever and about to go to seed.
I use herbs in everything. They can change the same vegetables (and meat), into quite different meals. A dish made with seasonal vegetables, kaffir lime leaves, coriander, coconut milk and rice is entirely different to one made with the same vegetables plus parsley, garlic, lemon and pasta.
This is my forte, I think; making use of everything in the garden to produce delicious and varied meals, even when the vegetables stay the same for a few weeks. This is especially so with salads.
What is a salad? To me it is a combination of vegetables and herbs and spices, eaten cold but not necessarily raw. It is not puréed and turned into a dip, neither is it a combination of hot vegetables, nor is it a meat dish, although it may have a few bits of bacon as in a Caesar Salad. Menus these days are too loose with their salad titles, I think. To me, if it has meat, it is a such-and-such salad with meat and not a meat salad! I think restaurants do this in order to avoid having to serve fresh, crisp salads, preferring to pre-assemble some meat and horrid cheesy sauce then toss in some tasteless, hydroponic lettuce at the last minute and call it a salad. Well, they don’t fool me! I judge food establishments on their salads and the best one I know of in this part of the world is my place (oh, and Sandra’s!!).
The sprouting garlic bulbs on my windowsill provide an endless supply of very garlicky shoots, for adding to salads, sprinkling on a bowl of soup or over hot roast vegetables. I find them so irresistible that I will snip one off and eat it, any time of the day, even 6am while I am waiting for my coffee to heat. Crazy? Of course. But, as Mark Twain said “If you find yourself on the side of the majority, its time to pause and reflect”.
My sea of parsley is going to seed …..I can’t bare to let it happen without some serious eating….so, what uses heaps of parsley? Walnut and parsley pesto, tabouli, my spinach and fetta pie.
Same deal with the chervil that has been wonderful in salads and light dishes all winter. The French use it a lot. So, I typed recettes cerfeuil (French for chervil recipes) into the search engine, and now have a cornucopia of ideas for using more chervil than ever! Mr. Google will translate them for you but I try to practise my French! I love the sound of this one which means Split pea soup with chervil pesto and truffle oil…. oh lalalala. When I typed in “chervil recipes” I did not get anything so varied as these dishes. So, if you want something French or Spanish or whatever, ask Mr. Google to translate the ingredient from English to that language, then go and find the recipes and ask Mr. Google to translate them back into English for you. I hear that Mrs. Google also likes to bookmark these pages for herself :-)
So, pick your herbs and start cooking!