Spice It Up With Herbs

Print Whether you grow your own or buy them from a farmers’ market, you will be amazed how easy it is transform an ordinary dish to an extraordinary dish with the addition of a fresh herb or two.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT USING FRESH HERBS
• To keep herbs fresh and handy, trim and discard ends and place herbs in vase or glass of water, making sure leaves are above the water line. Keep on counter, or refrigerate and use as needed. This will hold most herbs two to three days.
• Do not wash herbs until ready for use.
 • Herbs should be perfectly dry before chopping. Always use a sharp knife. Many herbs begin losing their flavor as soon as they are chopped and others, like tarragon and basil, turn dark when chopped. Try to chop herbs just before using.
• The delicate flavors of basil, chervil, cilantro and chives can be lost in long cooking. Add to dishes near the last two to three minutes of cooking.
• Parsley and tarragon have strong flavors that can overpower all other flavors. Add near the /files/storyimages/of the cooking process so their flavors do not overwhelm the dish.
• Bay leaf, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme impart their flavor well during longer cooking processes. All have a strong flavor so a small amount provides lots of flavor. Use with hearty foods that can stand up to their strength.
• The flavors of basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, parsley and tarragon are lost, or unpleasantly changed, when dried.
• Oregano’s flavor actually improves when dried.
• Tarragon makes great vinegar. The flavors of basil, chervil, chives, cilantro and parsley do not make good vinegars.
• Do not store herbs in oil or attempt to make herb infused oils. Botulism develops in the anaerobic environment provided by the oil.

HERB PIZZA
Now, this pizza won’t look anything like your everyday tomato-based pizza, but I think you’ll really enjoy the change. I vary the toppings by adding pine nuts, a little feta cheese or seeded and diced Roma tomatoes.

Nutritional Information: 555 calories; 13 g fat; 4 g saturated; 15 mg cholesterol; 577 mg sodium; 88 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 20 g protein.

Prep Time: 25 minutes. Cook time: 15 minutes. Servings: 4.

Crust
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package fast-acting yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water (120? - 130?)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cornmeal

Topping
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (try combinations like rosemary, sage and thyme)
2 cloves garlic,
minced 1 cup shredded,
lowfat mozzarella cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, yeast and salt. Stir water and oil into dry ingredients. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes. Dust a 15-inch pizza pan with cornmeal. Shape dough into a smooth ball; roll to fit pizza pan; place in pan. In a small dish, combine herbs, garlic, pepper and half of the cheese. Sprinkle mixture evenly over dough. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over herb mixture. Bake in the center of a 450?F oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese begins to brown. Remove from oven; slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Shopping list: ? Flour ? Herbs ? Yeast ? Garlic ? Olive oil ? Mozzarella ? Cornmeal ? Salt and pepper

PICO DE GALLO Pico de Gallo is more than merely fresh salsa. It’s delicious, it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s a dip, it’s a salad, or it’s a garnish for soups, meats, poultry and fish. Regardless of how you choose to use it, you are sure to love the fresh flavors. My bet is you will never want to return to bottled salsa.

Nutritional Information: 27 calories; 0 fat; 0 cholesterol; 144 g sodium; 6 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber, 1 g protein.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Servings: 4.

2 large tomatoes,
diced 2 cloves garlic,
minced 5 green onions,
thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper,
seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Let stand twenty minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Shopping list: ? Tomatoes ? Jalapeno ? Garlic ? Cilantro ? Green onions ? Lime ? Salt

TABBOULEH Tabbouleh – pronounced: tah-bull-lee – may sound funny but there’s nothing funny about the wonderful bl/files/storyimages/of flavors and textures in this cool summer salad. Bulgur (a steamed, cracked wheatberry) can be found in the nutrition/organic section of most groceries.

Per serving: 137 calories; 5 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 194 mg sodium; 22 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber.

Prep time: 35 minutes. Servings: 6.

Salad
1 cup bulgur
1 cup boiling water
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves Dressing
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander seed

Place bulgur in a medium bowl. Pour water over bulgur; cover and allow to stand 30 minutes. When all the water has been absorbed, fluff bulgur with a fork. Add tomatoes, onions, parsley and mint. To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar or dish. Shake or whisk until well blended. Pour dressing over salad. Toss well to distribute all ingredients. Chill about 1 hour before serving.

Shopping list: ? Bulgur ? Lemon ? Tomatoes ? Oregano ? Green onions ? Cumin ? Parsley ? Allspice ? Mint ? Coriander ? Olive Oil ? Salt and pepper

GRILLED TARRAGON CHICKEN
Nutritional Information: 220 calories; 12 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 68 mg cholesterol; 210 mg sodium; 0 carbohydrate; 0 fiber

Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 15 minutes. Servings: 4.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, stir together oil, vinegar, tarragon, salt and pepper until salt is dissolved. Rub mixture on all sides of the chicken breasts. Chicken can be grilled right away or can be covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours before grilling.

Grill over hot coals or bake in a 400?F oven, about 15 minutes.

Shopping list: ? Chicken ? Olive oil ? White wine vinegar ? Fresh tarragon ? Salt and pepper

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