Herbs form the basis of many raw sauces as well as flavoring cooked sauces. Almost any chopped herb can be added to a basic white sauce, while a handful of blanched and chopped parsley, tarragon and watercress will completely transform an ordinary mayonnaise to serve with salads, fish, chicken or vegetables.
This is a classic Genoise sauce used for pasta and flavoring. It freezes well. Makes about 1 ¼ cups
2/3 cups Basil leaves
6 Garlic cloves
½ cup Pine nuts
1 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Purée the basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and a little of the oil in a food processor or use a pestle and mortar. Add the remaining oil gradually, processing or pounding until the sauce emulsifies. Season with salt and pepper.
Make herb butters with chervil, lovage, parsley, mint, coriander (cilantro), basil, tarragon or blend together a selection of herbs. A little parsley and lemon juice makes garlic butter less pungent.
Chop 3 tablespoons of fresh herbs and blend them with 1 cup of unsalted butter. Roll into a cylinder on waxed paper, twist the ends and chill, or wrap in foil and freeze. Serve on frilled (broiled) meats or fish or use to top new potatoes or fresh vegetables, or to spread on crusty whole-wheat bread.
Herb Butter for Topping of Vegetables
Soften butter to room temperature. Combine with mixed dry herbs allowing ½ to 1 teaspoon of herbs per tablespoon of butter. Prepare as needed or in large amounts, whap in foil and store in refrigerator. At serving time remove 1 to 2 tablespoons of seasoned butter from the packet to place on top of each cup of hot vegetables. A pinch of nutmeg or dried mustard, a drop of hot pepper sauce or ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice can be added to each tablespoon of butter as well.
Tomato and Thyme Sauce
You can vary this basic tomato sauce by adding your favorite herbs.
Makes about 2 cups
2 tablespoons Butter
1 tablespoon Olive oil
2 Shallots, chopped
3 Garlic cloves
1 lb Tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons Tomato paste
2 tablespoons Chopped thyme
Salt and Pepper
Heat the butter and oil and fry the shallots until soft. Add the garlic, tomatoes and tomato paste. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme, season with salt and pepper and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
This traditional mint jelly makes a refreshing change form mint sauce to serve with roast lamb or other grilled or boiled meats. You can also make a similar jelly with parsley, thyme or tarragon.
Makes about 4 ½ lb
5 lb Cooking apples
4 ½ cups Water
4 Mint sprigs
4 ½ cups Distilled white vinegar
Granulated or preserving sugar (Stevia, a natural sugar herb)
1 ½ cups Chopped mint
Wash the apples and cut them into chunks, without paling or coring them. Place them in a saucepan with the water and mint, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 35 minutes until soft and pulpy, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and boil for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into jelly bag and leave to drain overnight without pressing or the jelly will be cloudy.
Measure the juice and add 2 cups sugar for each 2 ½ cups juice. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then boil vigorously for about 8 minutes until setting point is reached. Test for setting by cooling a spoonful of the jelly on a chilled saucer; the jelly should wrinkle when pressed. Skim, if necessary, then stir in the chopped mint, pour into sterilized jars and label.