Fresh Herbs: A Case for the “Living” Pantry

When you think of pantry basics, rice, pasta, eggs, spices, oil, vinegar and so on come to mind. How about herbs, fresh, leafy herbs? You might be thinking “Really, herbs?! On the contrary. They can be expensive and half of them rot before I use them!”

 

In order to make them part of your pantry you have to use them and use them without a recipe telling you to, because most recipes don’t or do so in such tiny quantities that the rest of the bunch is likely to come to a slimy demise in your vegetable bin.

 

Whether you buy a bunch of fresh herbs when you’re buying your milk, eggs, etc. or you plant some low-maintenance ones–like chives and parsley–in a pot by your front/back door, the return on investment can be big. When it comes to flavor, nutrients, and color, herbs are simply the best! Herbs like parsley and cilantro pack an anti-oxidant, mineral, and vitamin-rich punch. I started using lots of herbs in my cooking because they added so much flavor to simple dishes. And since they were growing in my tiny garden they were always just there and free and why I got so used to using them. So when I was out of lettuce for my son’s sandwich once I put parsley on it instead. (He still loves parsley and asks for it now.)

 

Mediterranean cuisines bring us herb-rich pestos and sauces and Persian and Middle Eastern foods are packed with mint, parsley, cilantro, dill and more. Beyond these classics, I like to take a cook-with-what-you-have approach to using them because I do think of them as part of my pantry.

  • Shower them on bowls of leftover rice, along with a fried egg and hot sauce
  • Blend 1 cup of parsley into a few tablespoons of tahini with some lemon juice, garlic, water and salt for a beautiful and delicious sauce for roasted vegetables, grilled meats, salads, grains or beans
  • Add them to quesadillas or burritos
  • Stir into mac and cheese or most any pasta dish
  • Layer on sandwiches instead of or in addition to lettuce
  • Get creative with the pesto method; use parsley and toasted pumpkin seeds or cilantro and walnuts

Spring is the time to plant these hardy herbs like parsley, chives, and mint. And when it’s warm enough basil, cilantro, dill etc.  You’ll have your “living” pantry always at the ready and for a fraction of the cost, as the plants will produce for many months.

 

So, use those herbs you buy or plant. Experiment, have fun, ask yourself “why not add a handful of dill to this salad or stir into those scrambled eggs or top that bowl of soup?”

 

 

Good Soup on the Fly

bean winter squash soup parsley pistouYou never know when that cup of cooked beans or chunk of roasted butternut squash will come in handy. Little time to think about what to make for dinner and little time to actually make it?

How does one turn random bits of already cooked ingredients into something delicious? Yesterday’s example . . . friend comes over for dinner but no real plan or time to be fancy. I had about 1 cup of cooked white beans and about as much bean cooking liquid, a rich, silky base for a soup. Also present, about 2 cups of already roasted butternut squash, some of it very soft and some of it still keeping its shape. I had a small chunk of celery root and I always have onions, potatoes and garlic on hand as well as veggie bouillon base (water would have been just fine since the bean broth was flavorful) in the freezer. The garden offered up a handful of parsley and a few leaves of sage.

Soup is a handy format for on-the-fly, no-plan cooking but to make it good–in the absence of time for lengthy simmering–it needs more than vegetables, grain, broths, etc. In this case a handful of chopped parsley and garlic clove and some salt, chopped/mashed into a paste and thinned with some good olive oil made it good. Sometimes soy sauce and/or fish sauce to finish does the trick, other times a slice of bacon, diced and added to the saute-ing onions does it.

parlsey garlic pistou

But to start, think of those beans and roasted vegetables as building blocks, really tasty and efficient ones, to make soup. Happy Cooking!

Simple Vegetable Soup with Parsley “Pistou

This is merely a template for a nice warming bowl of soup. Adapt and substitute to suit your tastes and needs.

Serves 4-ish

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon sage, fresh or dried, chopped (or thyme, oregano, marjoram. . .)
2 medium potatoes, diced fairly small (for quick cooking)
1 cup celery root, diced
1 cup cooked beans (white, pinto, cranberry, chickpeas. . .)
1 cup bean cooking broth
2 cups roasted winter squash, diced (or use raw if that’s what you have and add it when you add the potatoes)
2 – 2 1/2 cups veggie bouillon broth or water or chicken stock  (use more or less depending on how thick/thin you want your soup, you can always thin it out at the end)
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the onion softens. Add the celery root, potatoes and sage and mix well and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the beans, bean broth, squash and stock and bring everything to a simmer. Cover partially and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and beginning to fall apart.

Meanwhile use the side of a chef’s knife to mash the sea salt into the minced garlic and then mix it around on the cutting board with the finely chopped parsley and make a rough paste. It doesn’t need to be uniform. Put it in a bowl and add a couple tablespoons good olive oil; it doesn’t need to totally emulsify, as you can see.

Taste the soup and adjust seasoning with salt and or a splash of vinegar if it’s bland. Serve hot or warm and top with the parsley garlic garnish.

A Little Rice, A Lot of Herbs

herbs leftover rice

I’ve had 1/2 cup of leftover rice in the fridge since last Saturday. I had 1/3 bunch of dill beginning to yellow at the tips and same with cilantro. I added a handful of parsley and I had 1 1/2 cups chopped herbs. I put some oil in a skillet, heated the rice, scooted it to one side, cracked an egg in. Then I took out the egg, turned off the burner and stirred the herbs and a few pinches of salt into the warm rice. The whole thing went into a bowl, topped with egg and Sriracha. Perfect lunch on a hot day!

That ratio of herbs to rice was inspired by Sabzi polo the Iranian dish with loads of herbs and rice. This is my 5-minute, totally oversimplified version.  You could easily scale this up for more people. Leftover rice, like for any fried rice, will work much better than fresh. Freshly cooked rice will be too sticky.  I always cook twice as much rice as I need and freeze the rest to use for dishes such as these.

herbs leftover rice egg

And now two containers of things needing to be used are no more. Waste not, want not!

Simple Spring Soup

 

frikeh herb soup IIEvery (early) spring I am reminded of why I have a vegetable/herb garden. Between the green garlic, sorrel, parsley, chives, and puny escarole I can flavor most anything and I haven’t actually “gardened” in many months. This is the joy of watching things come up and start afresh with no effort at all. It doesn’t look like much when you scan the muddy patches that I call my garden this time of year. However, we were away for a few days last week and I have yet to do much grocery shopping so we’ve been eating out of the pantry/freezer and the garden and we’ve been eating well.

Today’s lunch was a soup of frikeh (scorched green wheat) that I had cooked months ago and frozen, a bit of leftover chicken stock, water, green garlic, a chunk of onion and plenty of parsley and chives and a little squeeze of lemon juice.

frikeh herb soup prepIt took about 10 minutes to make and is just a template for a simple, brothy bowl of soup. Any grain would work and barley or farro would be particularly good. You could skip the grains and just use vegetables or leftover meat but plenty of herbs are key. Use any kind of broth or stock you have or just water. The little bit of lemon juice at the end and the herbs are what stand out here.

Spring Soup

Serves 2-3

2 stalks green garlic, trimmed and minced (greens and all)
1/2 small onion, finely diced
3 cups broth/stock/water
A little toasted cracked coriander (optional)
1 1/2 cups cooked grains (see headnote), frikeh in this case
1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs like parsley, chives, chervil
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt
Olive oil

Saute the onion and green garlic in a bit of oil oil in a medium pot. When softened add the broth and the cooked grains. Bring to a boil. Add the coriander (if using) and stir in the fresh herbs. Salt to taste. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a good drizzle of olive oil.

Happy Spring!

P.S. I’ve created a new section on my subscription-based Seasonal Recipe Collection called What’s for Dinner? It organizes the site by theme such as Creative Salads, Meals that Make Great Leftovers, Prepared Pantry, Kid-friendly Meals and the like. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you might consider it!

White Beans, Roasted Tomatoes, Spicy Sausage

white bean sausage tomato soup parsley garlic oil

There are so many nights when I’m grateful for the work I put in at times when I don’t need to put dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Things like already cooked beans and a jar of veggie bouillon base and frozen, roasted tomatoes all add so much flavor. It’s not the time of year to be roasting tomatoes but the other two you can make anytime you have a bit of spare time.

In order to provide more tools for this kind of cooking I’m developing a new portion of my subscription-based Seasonal Recipe Collection that will feature posts on how to set yourself up for this kind of cooking–inexpensive, flavorful, quick as a result of some planning and forethought.

Last week, I had a few nights with very little time to get dinner ready. Luckily I had set out white beans to thaw, had a handful of roasted, frozen tomatoes lurking in my freezer as well as a spicy pork sausage. As usual I had some slightly has-been celery in the fridge. I always have onions and garlic and I had half a bunch of parsley.

These ingredients turned into a simple soup/stew topped with a garlicky parsley sauce. The beans, tomatoes and rosemary were so flavorful and rich I didn’t need the sausage at all (but my boys, big and small, love a little meat now and then). You can make it more brothy by adding more stock and/or bean cooking liquid, you can certainly add carrots or any kind of greens or other vegetables. You could toss in a handful of two of small pasta if that entices your eaters to enjoy it more. . .

White Bean and Tomato Stew with (or without) Sausage

Serves 4

Olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 spicy (or mild) pork sausage, cut into rounds
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
5 or so roasted, frozen tomatoes, chopped up,  or 1 cup canned, roasted tomatoes (or just plain canned ones)
3 cups cooked white beans with their cooking liquid. I used Ayers Creek farm’s Zolfino beans (in case you’re local and have some on  hand) or canned beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups bean cooking liquid and/or water or vegetable broth/veggie bouillon
about 1/2 bunch of parsley, tough stems removed, the rest finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced and mashed with a little salt on your cutting board
3-4 tablespoons good olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a soup pot cook the onion, celery, sausage and rosemary in a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the beans, cooking liquid and/or water or broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 more minutes. If you’re using canned tomatoes and water instead of broth let the soup cook for at least 15 minutes to concentrate the flavors.

Meanwhile mix the garlic with the parsley and olive oil.

Serve the soup with a generous dollop of the parsley garnish.

 

Summer Lentils and Beans

French green lentils with summer squash, bacon and parsley and plenty of vinegar and good olive oil.

It’s hot in Portland and getting hotter. We’re not so used to this here. I have been feeling a deep pang of empathy for the millions of people who have been living through the heat wave/drought this summer in much of the United States.

And it’s definitely that time of year when those seeds and plants we’ve been nourishing for months repay one’s devotion. There’s produce everywhere and the odd tension for me of the joy of the abundance and the pressure to manage it all is in full swing right now. If you, like me are a bit overwhelmed, there are many ways in which to share our bounty. Locally in Portland this is a great resource. Or read this piece from Culinate which landed in my inbox just at the right time yesterday.

So, how to cook/prepare food in a very hot house when there is so much beautiful fresh produce? It’s really the prefect time for the cook-with-what-you-have approach. Who has time for recipes or many steps or much stove time at all? And if you by chance have home-cooked beans in the freezer, now is the time to gloat! I have done this, the gloating (to myself alone albeit) the last few days. I added a bunch of chickpeas to a coleslaw with lots of fresh jalapenos, cilantro and mint. The chickpeas added heft and texture and it was a lovely way to spend NO time at the stove. And if you don’t have cooked beans, canned beans are a good shortcut here.

Previously cooked and then frozen navy beans with tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, sweet onions, feta, and a dressing of red wine vinegar, s & p and good olive oil.

Just now for lunch I employed some just-thawed white beans in my attempt to eat as much produce as possible in one meal. With the company of yet more jalapeno, cilantro, Walla Walla Sweets, and tomatoes (and some feta) it made the perfect hot day lunch. Oh and I added some basil too. Yesterday I added copious amounts of both dill and cilantro to a similar salad–both herbs needed using and the two got along just fine. You may never recreate some of this tossed-together summer dishes but the joy of uninhibited combinations is not to be missed!

The lentil salad with zucchini and bacon pictured above is my new favorite hearty summer salad. It was inspired by the ever creative Nigel Slater and my adaptation of this dish has found its way into most of my CSA recipe packets in the last week or two. It does require you to cook the lentils (they cook so quickly 15 – 20 min) that I don’t cook these ahead of time and freeze. And the bacon, onion and zucchini see some stove time but it’s minimal so consider doing these things while you’re making breakfast, while it’s still cool and then have dinner ready for you in the evening.

Stay cool and happy eating!

P.S. There are two spots left in my Herbs in the Kitchen Class next Thursday and there are some seats left at the Slow Food Portland dinner in celebration (and support!) of our Terra Madre delegates on Saturday, August 25th. Would love to see you there.

Summer Squash with Lentils, Parsley and Bacon
–inspired by Tender by Nigel Slater

Lentils get overlooked a bit in the summer but I especially love salads with small green lentils in the summer. You can make them ahead of time and then have a robust, room temperature dish for whenever you need it. You want to cook the zucchini until it’s nice and browned but still holding it’s shape so use high heat.

1 1/4 cups small French green lentils or other small lentils that keep their shape when cooked
Splash of olive oil
1 Walla Walla Sweet, diced
4 cups summer squash, cut into small chunks –for zucchini I quarter them lengthwise and then cut them into 1/3-inch chunks
4 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or more red wine vinegar if you don’t have sherry vinegar)
2 small-ish garlic cloves, crushed and then minced
3 (or more) tablespoons good olive oil
Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
¼ cup (or more) chopped parsley

Cook the lentils until tender, about 15-20 minutes (this will vary depending on the kind of lentil you have). You want them to be tender but keep their shape so check frequently.

Drain them and immediately toss them with the vinegars, garlic and olive oil. Set aside.

In the largest skillet you have, heat a splash of olive oil over high heat and add the bacon and onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. You want the onion softened and bacon rendered but not crisp. Remove the onions and bacon from skillet and add to lentils.

Add another splash of olive oil and the summer squash and a few generous pinches of salt. Cook the squash over high heat for about 7-8 minutes until browned and beginning to soften.

Add the warm squash to the lentils along with the chopped parsley and the additional olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and/or vinegar.

Cabbage and Potato Gratin

This is simple comfort food and uses a lot of cabbage. Leftovers are delicious.  In this version I added a handful of small, tubetti pasta, which is totally optional.

 

 

You could add lots of chopped parsley or oregano or basil or chives to the dish as you’re assembling it, before baking. You could use other vegetables. I imagine diced winter squash instead of the potatoes would be fabulous and very pretty. Sausage, bacon or any kind of leftover meat would be good. You can vary the cheeses, omit entirely, and so on and so forth!

 

Serves 6

 

For Bechamel

 

4 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons flour

generous 2 cups of whole or 2% milk

Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper

Bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cloves

3/4 grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmentaler, . . .)

Fresh minced thyme, parsley, chives, etc. (optional)

 

Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan over med/low heat. When melted, whisk in flour. Continue cooking the roux for 2 -3 min, whisking frequently. Meanwhile heat milk until it’s scalding. Whisk hot milk into roux and add salt, black pepper, chili flakes (or omit if you’d like), add mustard and a bay leaf and a grating or two of nutmeg. Stir well and cook over med/low heat for about 10 minutes until thickened and bubbling. Add the cheese and fresh, chopped herbs, if, using.

 

For the Gratin

 

3-5 potatoes (depending on size) and cut into thumb-sized chunks

1/2 medium to large green cabbage (or a whole small one), cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

Handful or two of small pasta (optional)

Salt

Bread crumbs (optional)

1/2 cup grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmentaler, . . .) (optional)

 

Put potatoes in a large pot with lots of water and two teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. If you are using some kind of pasta you’ll want to add it to the potatoes so they’re both done at the same time. The pasta can be quite al dente when you drain everything though since it will keep cooking in the oven. When the potatoes (and pasta, if using) are almost tender add the cabbage to the pot. Cover and cook for another few minutes until the cabbage is tender. Drain.

 

Spread the vegetables in a large baking dish. Pour the béchamel over the top and mix in a bit. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and optional cheese and bake at 400 until bubbly and crisp on top. Run under the broiler for a few minutes for more browning.

 

Winter Veggie Hash, Poached Egg and Salsa Verde

If I were a photographer and a cook then my blog would look like this every week!  I had a photo shoot during a recent cooking class since I’m in the process of redoing my website and blog (and combining the two!). My dear friend and talented photographer Andera Lorimor took the photos. But alas I am not (yet) a photographer so enjoy this rare week of beauty on this site.

We cooked up a storm in class including one of my all-time favorites: Veggie Hash with Poached Egg and Salsa Verde. Sounds fancy but is simple and delicious and uses pretty common pantry items. You can use almost any vegetable in the hash and this time of year my favorites include celery root, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and various winter squashes. So adapt to your taste and the season. And you can simplify the salsa verde by skipping the capers and egg. The bright, lemony salsa verde does balance out the sweetness of the vegetables really well.

Quick Veggie Hash with Salsa Verde and Poached Egg

This is a quick way to use a variety of vegetables such as zucchini, potatoes, parsnips, all of which you can grate. You can also use veggies you can’t grate but cut into small dice like peppers, broccoli, etc. It’s a great brunch or dinner dish. It can be adapted in many ways. You can add any leftover meat or add bacon or sausage. It’s fabulous with the salsa verde but if you don’t have time or interest in that, toss in the herbs noted below.

Serves 4

3 medium carrots, scrubbed trimmed and grated on the large holes of box grater (or w/ food processor)

1 small delicata squash, cut in half, seeds and strings removed and grated

½ onion, diced or several scallions sliced into thin rounds

olive oil

salt and pepper

handful of basil or parsley, chopped, or 2 tablespoons chopped chives (optional—see note above)

4 eggs, poached (see below)

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the onions and veggies all at once. Add a couple of pinches of salt and stir well. Cook on high heat for several minutes and then turn down to medium-high as the veggies start to brown. Cook for about 7-10 minutes until veggies are tender and a bit browned. Just before the veggies are done add the chopped herbs, if using. Adjust for salt and add freshly ground pepper.

Poaching Eggs

Bring plenty of water to boil in a wide pot. Add about 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar to the water. The vinegar is the trick to pretty poached eggs so don’t skimp on it. One at a time crack an egg into a small bowl and slide it gently into the boiling water. Continue until all eggs are in the water. Cook for about 4-5 minutes to get firm whites and runny yolks. Lift out of the water with a slotted spoon. You can trim the edges if they are really ratty.

Serve the hash topped with a poached egg and a tablespoon or so of Salsa Verde, see recipe below.

Salsa Verde

This is a versatile, zippy sauce. I often just make it with parsley garlic, lemon juice, oil and salt but the addition of capers, onions and egg make it even better.

You can use a food processor for this since (except the egg white which you add at the very end, chopped by hand) but you can also just chop everything by hand. It’s not intended to have a smooth, uniform texture so don’t overprocess if you go that route.

1 1/2 cups finely chopped parsley (about one medium bunch)

grated zest of 1-2 lemons

1 shallot or chunk of onion, finely diced (optional)

2-3 tablespoons capers, rinsed (optional)

1-2 small garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white or red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 hard-boiled egg (optional)

Combine all the ingredients except the egg, salt, and pepper. Mash the egg yolk until smooth, adding a little of the sauce to thin it. Finely chop the white. Stir the yolk and the white back into the sauce, season with salt and pepper and adjust lemon/vinegar as needed.


Simple Italian Lentil and Rice Stew

Arborio rice and small French green lentils (or if you can’t find them you can use small brown Italian lentils from Umbria)

Rice and lentils are a classic combination. All over the Middle East you find versions of Mujaddara, a dish of rice and lentils garnished with caramelized onions often flavored with cumin. Sometimes there’s a little tomato sauce in the mix or a spicy harissa. There are Indian versions as well.

This simple Italian combination of arborio rice and small either French green or Italian brown lentils is the perfect lunch or dinner with a salad on the side. You cook the lentils and rice in the same pot with just some garlic, parsley and a little tomato and some good broth of your choosing or veggie bouillon.  Dress it up with some more parsley, some parmesan and a drizzle of good olive oil and dig in.

Rice and lentil stew with parmesan and parsley.

There’s nothing fancy about this and that’s why it’s such a winner for when all you have is your pantry–which hopefully always contain rice and lentils. Either short or long-grain brown rice would work too though you would increase the cooking time for the rice a bit. Parsley grows almost year-round here in Western Oregon so this is truly a pantry meal in our household. You could probably substitute dried oregano and/or thyme and add a bay leaf to the broth when you’re cooking it if there’s no parsley on hand. And come to think of it, a dollop of harissa would probably be delicious with this.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Italian Lentil and Rice Stew

1/2 cup of small French green lentils or Italian brown lentils

1 cup Arborio rice

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons (more or less), Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1-2 medium tomatoes, diced (I used 4 halves of roasted tomatoes that I roast and freeze for just such things) or 2 canned tomatoes, without their juice, diced

4 cups stock, broth, veggie bouillon broth, etc.

parmesan

good olive oil for drizzling

a bit more parsley for garnish

Saute the parsley and garlic for just about a minute in a saucepan in a little olive oil. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the lentils and the broth (if the broth is not salty add 1 teaspoon of salt at this point) and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the rice (if using brown rice you want to add the rice at the same time as the lentils) and cook for another 15 minutes or so until both lentils and rice are tender but not mushy. There will still be a little liquid in the pan which is how it should be. Adjust seasoning.

Sever with parmesan, parsley and a drizzle of good oil

So Much Produce/So Little Time to Cook

The "granny CSA" or what I brought home from my mother's this weekend.

It’s not that I have SO little time to cook it’s that I am preserving or u-picking or really want to be outside while the sunshine lasts. It’s the time of year where I get almost overwhelmed with the beauty and bounty of the produce and get a little panicky that I won’t be able to take full advantage of all of it. And tomatoes, corn, peppers and eggplants haven’t even really hit here so what am I going to do next week, the week after?!

It’s a luxury problem and I am grateful for the bounty.  And I am grateful for my mother who grows so much of it. We spent less than 24 hours at my mother’s this weekend principally so my husband could make pickles with my mother. My husband is not a pickle fan but loves her bread & butter pickles from the Joy of Cooking she’s been making for 30 years (here’s a similar recipe).

Brian's second batch of bread and butter pickles.

The top photo shows only some of the loot I brought home. Not shown are three quarts of Marion Berries that I turned into Marion Berry, peach, vanilla jam (instead of planning my fall classes which I am determined to do this week!).

And the first of the Transparent apples are ripening here in the Willamette Valley and my son ate all three of those little things plus a lemon cucumber, which “one can eat like an apple but it doesn’t even have a core!” he gleefully discovered.

First, rather tart Transparent apples of the season.

And here’s all the garlic she grew this year.

Garlic harvest

And take note of the basket it’s in. The handle is completely duct-taped and the rim is reinforced with some ribbon. These are the kind of things that drove me crazy as a teenager. My parents hung onto everything. . . product-life-extension, as my older brother calls it. Now it doesn’t drive me crazy. Now I realize just how spot-on her priorities are. Grow the garlic, forget about a new basket. Who has time for that?

Happy Cooking and Eating!

P.S. With the beets (from the Granny CSA) I made this. I’ll be making this with the parsley, and I made a wine-braised cabbage dish with the green cabbage that was quite good:  1 cup of leftover cheap rose (would be better with a dry white wine I think); some finely chopped rosemary, 1/2 an onion, 1 tomato, diced, and salt and pepper.

Summer (Cherries, Green Couscous, Garlic Scapes)

Dessert in a tree.

My four-year-old son Ellis and I spent a night at my mother’s place last week.  She lives in the middle of nowhere and has neighbors with cherry trees and fruit picking ladders. Ellis climbed right to the top of this rather tall ladder and ate his fill of Royal Ann cherries, gleefully spitting the pits down onto our heads. Actually he mostly missed our heads but cackled with each dropping pit. The setting sun and a sticky, happy kid . . .. Summer, finally here (though absent again today) is so wonderful. And if you have lots of cherries and need a new idea for them, try this wonderful recipe by David Lebovitz for Cherries in Red Wine Syrup.

My cooking has been somewhat sporadic and a bit frenetic of late. We’ve been out-of-town, had visitors, had lots of picnics and barbeques, even a meal or two out. I want to be outside all the time and am spending more time processing berries than making dinner. This means we’ve had a lot of frittatas, salads and artichokes for dinner lately or anything else I can throw together in minutes so I can get back outside.

Green Couscous from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

I have made two dishes worth noting in the last few days. The first comes from one of my favorite cookbooks Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi that you’ve  heard me rave about here before. It’s called Green Couscous and is a herb-heavy, full flavored dish. If you, or you in combination with your neighbors grow mint, cilantro, tarragon, dill, parsley, and arugula, you might be able to make this salad on a moments notice. The recipe calls for toasted pistachios but I didn’t have any and substituted toasted almonds which worked beautifully. This recipe is not super quick. It has a few more steps than most of my dishes but it’s well worth it.

I know our spring here in the Pacific Northwest was cooler and wetter than others so if you no longer have garlic scapes (tops, whistles) in your neck of the woods just file this away for next year. Garlic scapes are the long, elegant stalks that grow up out of a garlic plant. So while the head of garlic is finishing up its growth underground the plant gives us a fragrant, sweet, tender shoot to work with as well. These scapes make a wonderful pesto so if you have some in your garden or see a bunch at the farmers market or in your CSA box, this is one thing to do with it.

Garlic Scape Pesto. Next to the bowl of pesto you see the very tops of the garlic scapes which hold the flower of the plant. You want to use the scape right up to this part but I typically don't include the immature flower in the pesto but come to think of it I'm not sure why. . . .

Garlic Scape Pesto

1 bunch (about 7-8) garlic scapes

generous handful of toasted (or raw) walnuts

1-2 ounces parmesan or Asiago stella

3/4 cup (or more) basil leaves

1/3 cups of good-tasting extra virgin olive oil

salt, pepper

Roughly chop the garlic scapes, with our without the very top, flower part (See note in caption above). Process the nuts and cheese in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve on toasted bread, with pasta, potatoes, eggs dishes other grains. . . .

Happy Cooking and Eating!

P.S. Two spots left in my August Eat Better Series. Save money, eat well, fewer trips to the store and more fun in the kitchen . . .

Wild Flowers and Summer Lentils

Nuttal Evening Primrose

We spent last week high up in the mountains in Colorado with my in-laws. Late June at 8500 feet in and around Rocky Mountain National Park is one heck of a beautiful place to be. I’ve always loved wildflowers but have rarely gotten out of the city in spring/early summer for many years. I became a certified wildflower geek, camera in tow, making everyone stop so I could take pictures and falling asleep with the wildflower book in hand. So this week you’re going to get a tiny sampling of those photos.

Colorado Tansy Aster Flower

Boulder Raspberry Flower

Wild Iris and Shooting Stars

When we returned home to a more or less empty fridge but thriving garden and well-stocked pantry/freezer I made a quick, hearty salad. I found a container of previously cooked French green lentils (Puy lentils) in the freezer.  I tend to cook lentils (regular brown, red, little green, etc. ) in the cooler months but I’m finding more and more uses for them this time of year and my four-year-old really likes them, so there they were waiting for me in the freezer.

I picked arugula, parsley, and chives in the garden, made a garlicky dressing with Greek Yogurt and that was it. I’ve given more detail in the recipe below but it’s really just a guide as to how one can use those heartier pulses (or grains) in summery ways. So experiment away with what you have in your garden, freezer, pantry and of course there’s that yogurt. One of my favorite cookbook authors Yotam Ottlenghi has a disclaimer in the headnote of one of his recipes (that I can’t seem to put my finger on at that moment) that goes something like this: “I know not all of you want to dollop rich Greek yogurt on everything you eat but in this case, it’s really worthwhile. . .”  I feel that way more often than not and in this recipe the yogurt turns into a silky dressing.

We had just barely unpacked when I made this dish and I neglected to take any photos. And I’m venturing to guess that the wildflowers were much more photogenic than this salad (or that my  very limited photography skills could represent).

Summer Lentil Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a light entrée

2 1/2 cups cooked and cooled small French green lentils (see note above)

3 -4 cups arugula (or other strongly flavored salad green) cut into 1-inch ribbons

1/4 cups of parsley roughly chopped

3 tablespoons chives, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced or mashed with some salt with the side of a chef’s knife

1/4 cup Greek or regular full fat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons good-quality extra virgin olive oil

zest of half a lemon

juice of half a lemon

2 teaspoons red wine or sherry vinegar (to taste) or just more lemon juice

salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Taste for salt and acidity and adjust as you like. Serve with good bread and cheese for a light supper.

Ponderosa Pollen Cone — I was completely fascinated by these cones. In another week's time they will "explode" and cover the whole landscape with yellowish-green pollen. They were so decorative and almost stylized looking and ranged in color from pale yellow to this deep rose.

Bread (and a Cookbook Giveaway)

I grew up in Germany eating good bread. My mother (the American parent) quickly learned my father’s old world tastes and became an expert bread baker. She made a dense, chewy rye bread with cracked coriander in it and one of my fondest childhood memories was eating that bread, sliced thinly, toasted, then cooled and then smeared generously with butter and topped with apricot or raspberry jam. Heaven! And just as good, topped with Gruyère or Swiss Cheese our Gouda, again on lots of butter. My mother also  made yeast rolls and whole wheat sandwich bread and I loved all of it and remember rounding up my friends on weekend mornings in the tiny village we lived in to come have warm bread right out of the oven.

My mother still bakes bread but she lives more than an hour away and now she’s most famous for her biscuits, but that’s another blog post. And now I live two blocks from Grand Central Bakery which is quite fortuitous since my first job out of college was at Grand Central. I arranged the bread and pastry displays, learned how to make good coffee and made sandwiches–mostly I remember the daily marathon of making sandwiches during the lunch rush. I’ve always loved their breads with their fabulous crusts and chewy interiors.

Grand Central Bakery's new Whole Grain Sandwich Loaf

Now, however, they have a new kind of bread which in some ways is nothing like the breads I grew up on and tend to gravitate towards. However, it is packed with seeds and whole grains (very German!) but is made in a more classic American sandwich bread style, i.e. softer and more tender. What I like about it though is that it still seems like a real loaf of bread, not something that is overly processed or engineered, which is what most sandwich bread seems like to me. Note the lovely mouse hole, as we called those irregular holes as children, which to me signals real bread. I recently picked up a loaf and used it every which way.

With Sharp Cheddar and my mother's Bread & Butter Pickles, about to be grilled. . .

The grilled version of the sharp cheddar and bread & butter pickle sandwich was not very photogenic but boy was it good. A friend inspired me to make the below version with fresh goat cheese, minced, fresh thyme and cheddar and then I made another version with a bunch of parsley in addition to the thyme. All are worth repeating and were devoured by neighborhood adults and kids alike.

With fresh goat cheese and herbs and more cheddar. . .

The crunchy, gooey, savory sandwiches before they disappeared.

And finally, the bread served as a good vehicle for my leftover slice of asparagus and snap pea frittata that I enjoyed in the back yard on one of the sunny (!!!!) days we’ve had recently.

Frittata sandwich with arugula and some sharp cheddar, again.

This bread is available in the Portland and Seattle areas at all the Grand Central Bakery storefronts but also in Portland at Pastaworks, Zupans, Whole Foods, New Seasons and Beaumont Market. And for those of you who do not live in the area, I hope you have a good alternative.

Lastly, to further honor my erstwhile employer, I’m going to give away a copy of the Grand Central Baking Book co-authored by the lovely Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson. This book is a collection of many of the bakery’s beloved treats for any time of day, sweet or savory.  So leave a comment about bread and/or sandwiches and I’ll randomly choose a winner to receive this gorgeous book.

Lastly, there are still spots available in my June 23rd Lunch Time Class and the June 25th improv class in which we’ll truly cook with what we have and collectively come up with a menu.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Herbs to the Rescue

Chives and Oregano in my garden. They both come back year after year with total neglect from me (other than cutting back the oregano each winter).

Herbs are always at or near the top of the home gardening lists that tell you what things are most economical to grow yourself, i.e. where your gardening efforts will result in the most savings in your grocery budget. Those bunches of herbs in plastic clamshells are expensive and rarely very fresh.

I started with a few parsley starts about 8 years ago. I let a few go to seed every year (they are biennials though so they have two seasons before the go to seed) which keeps me in new seedlings so I always have plenty of parsley–one of the most versatile herbs.

In addition to saving $$ many any of them grow with the most minimal care and attention and some do well from seed so your up-front costs are truly minimal. They can grow in pots on your window sill, deck, porch, fire escape. . . and of course in any free spot in the ground. And they are delicious, nutritious and can make most any staple, from eggs, to grains, beans, veggies and meats, sing.

Having just returned from a trip my refrigerator was fairly bare this morning and I needed to make lunch for my husband to take to work and for myself at home. And since I am a bit bean-crazed or as a neighbor noted yesterday, the bean queen, I was able to pull together a decent lunch thanks to the parsley and oregano in the backyard. I had thawed a container of white beans when I returned yesterday so I had those. I chopped up a few handfuls of parsley and oregano, added some lemon zest, juice, chili flakes, olive oil, and salt and pepper. I mixed that with the beans and filled some whole wheat tortillas with that on a bed of grated sharp cheddar.

Quesadilla with white beans, herbs and sharp cheddar, aka impromptu, filling lunch.

I do realize I’ve been emphasizing greens and beans of one sort or another here for a while but in this in-between season of sorts, before the summer squash and tomatoes, beans, peppers and corn surface, they’ve been keeping me good company.

I’ve also been working on an upcoming class on salad rolls that is one of the most fantastic uses of herbs I know. Rather than the sideshow, they are the main attraction in salad rolls, even edging out that peanut sauce. There’s still plenty of room in that class if you’re interested in learning how to make this simple delicacy.

Mint might be the most prolific herb and is best grown in a pot since it can take over any garden. Mint features prominently in the upcoming Salad Roll class on June 25th.

The herbs I grow and love to cook with most are: parsley, chives, thyme, oregano, mint, sage, tarragon and rosemary (actually  my neighbor has the giant rosemary bush) and cilantro, though it bolts easily and has a shorter season than the rest and you have to keep seeding it so it’s actually probably easier to buy.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Silver Linings and a One-Pot Dinner

Wild Rice with Veggies and Sausage

I like to get things done. I usually love working hard, whether it’s prepping for my classes, reviewing budgets, cleaning the bathroom, cooking three meals a day or planting the garden. I think of myself as strong and able, or thought of myself that way until recently, and not often in need of asking for help. But now I have some disk/spine issues that are turning my m.o. on its head. It’s painful physically and challenging emotionally but over the last few weeks, it’s gradually become less so.

As a dear friend said to me recently: “People really like helping out!” And it seems she’s right and come to think of it, I like to help others out too. So I have been asking for a lot of help lately. It’s getting easier to ask and with the additional help some of the physical pain is easing too. I’m definitely not used to my new, physically weaker, self and have my moments of intense frustration, but having people around to help me prep for and assist with classes, do the heavy lifting in the garden, etc. has been fun. I have a fairly solitary job, except for the actual time spent teaching, so having other people around for these  tasks is a joy.

I’m letting go of some of the control I didn’t quite realize I liked and practiced so much and learning as a go. I am doing things more slowly, I’m cutting more corners and not feeling guilty (the back steps did not get swept before my students arrived on Saturday and I didn’t scrub the hood over my stove within an inch of its life). And when it comes to cooking, I’m trying new things too. I’m using my food processor much more since I just plain can’t chop much by hand and have had to slow down.

And now I’m going to ask for your help and comments. Last night I pulled together a somewhat typical cook-with-what-you-have kind of meal. It wasn’t great (yet) but it was certainly fine. And the method was fun and got me thinking about all the possibilities of what I think I might call Dinner Pilaf for now. Pilaf has its roots in Turkey and Persia but there are versions from dozens of countries. Principally it is rice cooked undisturbed in broth or water with seasonings and other additions.

I discovered some wild rice in the back of my pantry yesterday. I had two leeks that needed using, half an onion, a few carrots, half a bunch of parsley and some pork sausage in the freezer. I sautéed the leeks, onions, and carrots; added the sausage cut into half-rounds. After all that was starting to brown I tossed in the rice, some veggie bouillon, covered it and brought it to a boil, then turned it down and walked away–for about an hour.

"Dinner Pilaf"

When I came back I found a beautiful pot of dinner. I had not measured the liquid carefully and it was a little wet for my taste and it was a bit bland. I minced the parsley and added two minced garlic cloves, a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice, some olive oil, salt and pepper (a simplified version of salsa verde) and stirred that in. Now it was good!  It wasn’t really a pilaf but somehow the idea of cooking rice or other grains or a combination of rice and beans with aromatics and veggies or meat with just enough liquid to cook it all seems rather clever. So I’m going to try this with barley and quinoa and other kinds of rice and with different veggies, spices and herbs . . .  And I’d love it if you experimented with this idea/method and reported back what you discover.  Or if you already make something like this tell us what you do.

Happy cooking and eating!

The Last of the Corn, Peppers. . .

We are having a beautiful fall here in Oregon. Days are sunny and warm, evenings and mornings cool and sometimes foggy and all those dreaded green tomatoes have (or will!) turn red. The peppers are glorious and abundant in every color, size and shape. And while I’ve mostly shifted to late fall/winter vegetables for my classes (still spots left in Soup Class on 10/24!) I am still clinging to the summer ones for the duration of their existence this year for my home cooking

I first made this salad almost a month ago as part of the dinner I catered for a forestry conference my mother hosted. It was well received and prompted my brother (the one who recently got married) to tell me that he wished I would have catered his whole wedding. I say this in part because I was thrilled to finally have created a barley salad worth writing about unlike this attempt you might remember.

So if like me, you’re trying to get the most of late summer treats like corn and peppers give this a try and let me know what you think. And I just might try a winter version of this hearty dish when I fully embrace the colder seasons.

Corn, Barley, and Roasted Pepper Salad

1  cup pearled or *hulled barley or about 3-4 cups cooked

3-4 ears of corn, kernels cut off cob

2-3 **poblano peppers or sweet Italian red peppers or really any kind or combination of sweet or mildly spicy peppers

3 oz of feta, crumbled

Dressing:

3 tablespoons lime or  lemon juice

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 cloves of garlic minced

salt, pepper

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 bunch parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)

*Note: I used hulled barley which, unlike pearled barley, has only had the outer layer removed and the bran layer is still intact. It’s delicious and full of good fiber but does take a little longer to cook so depending on what kind you’re using adjust your cooking time. ** Poblano peppers vary widely in their level of heat/spiciness. Taste them as you go and you may not want to use as many as I suggest if they’re really spicy. Final note, if you’re using sweet peppers and are in a hurry you can skip the roasting step and just dice them. The roasting adds a wonderful smoky richness but the salad is still good with fresh peppers.

If you’re using hulled barley add it and 4 cups of water  to a pan with 1 tsp kosher salt. If you’re using pearled barley, add only 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for about one hour for hulled and 45 minutes for pearled. Test to check for doneness. You want it to be soft but with a bit of a bite still, not mushy. It’s pretty forgiving though and firms up a bit as it cools so don’t worry too much. Remove from heat and put in a large bowl to cool.

Meanwhile roast the peppers under the broiler or directly on your gas flame until blackened and blistered on all sides. Set in a bowl and cover for a a few minutes to cool and loosen the skin. When you’re able to handle them remove the skin, stem and seeds and roughly chop.

Cook the corn kernels with a splash of water and several pinches of salt until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Mix all the dressing ingredients. Add corn, peppers, cilantro or parsley (if using) and dressing to barley and mix well. Then add the feta.  Add salt, lemon juice or cumin to taste. The barley soaks up a lot of salt and acidity.

Note: It’s easy to cook barley in larger quantities ahead of time and freeze for  super quick meals like these.

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce, Organic Ag, Raj Patel, etc.

Raj Patel wrote the book Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. I have only read excerpts of the book but have recently subscribed to his blog and am eager to read the whole book. One of his most recent posts is about a study comparing the energy it takes to run a conventional farm vs. an organic one. Questions of how best to feed the world are immensely complicated and Raj doesn’t shrink from these complications. Having coincidentally tuned into a debate on npr on my way to the airport the other night (to pick up another worthy-of-following food figure Bryant Terry) about whether organic food is just marketing hype, I was particularly interested to look at the study Raj discusses and its massive amounts of data.

Subscribing to Raj’s blog has been a welcome addition to my more strictly food/cooking blogs (with the exceptions of Michael Ruhlman who regularly interjects food system/policy related rants (his word!) into his posts and Culinate).  When you spend as much time as I do cooking, testing recipes, planting and tending a vegetable garden,  shopping at local farmers’ markets, and just living in one of the “bread baskets” of the world, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the challenges we face locally, nationally and globally when it comes to food, food-security, access to real food, . . .

All this to say that I am trying to find a balance between being totally immersed in the details of cooking and teaching with an awareness, no more than an awareness, maybe tactics to infuse a bit of the challenges of our food-system into my work. Whether that means teaching free classes to Portland Farmers Market shoppers who use their Oregon Trail cards (starting in May)  and really making simple, local ingredients shine in all my classes, I am going to continue thinking about ways to  advance a healthier more equitable food system.

Now to the recipe! And speaking of local and organic, eggs are one of those things (like tomatoes) where once you’ve had a good egg–fresh, local, bright yellow/orange–it’s hard to go back to grocery store eggs. And speaking of food system challenges. .. figuring out how to make good eggs like this accessible to much of the world should be at the top of someone’s agenda. Eggs are such a little miracle of deliciousness, protein, nutrients of all kinds, and adaptability.

I taught this recipe in class this weekend to rave reviews. This dish is sometimes called Eggs in Purgatory but whatever you call it, just make it!

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce with Salsa Verde

Basic Tomato Sauce

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, 1/4-inch dice

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried

1/2 medium carrot, finely chopped (optional)

1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

Salt & pepper

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add a few pinches of salt and the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and pepper. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

4-6 eggs (depending on number of people and/or appetite)

salt & pepper

4-6 Tbs Salsa Verde (recipe below)

Toasted bread

Heat tomato sauce in a wide sauté or frying pan until bubbling, turn down to medium/medium high. Make slight indentations in the sauce with a spoon and crack eggs into indentations. Sprinkle generously with salt and a few grinds of pepper, sprinkle on the parmesan (if using) and cover the pan. Cook until the eggs are cooked to your liking—about 5 minutes for typical poached egg quality.

Serve with toasted bread and Salsa Verde on the eggs.

Salsa Verde

There are many variations of this simple sauce. Vary it as you like but start with a couple of handfuls of parsley, chopped. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, minced garlic and olive oil to desired consistency and taste. It doesn’t take much garlic so start with half a small clove. It should be strongly seasoned since it is used with mild dishes but the garlic can easily overpower things. You can add chopped capers or anchovies as well but for the poached eggs I think the simpler one is best.

This sauce is also wonderful over roasted root vegetables, over a hash of veggies and /or potatoes, with fish or beef.

Celebrating Mothers and Daughters & Homemade Mayo

I was born on Mother’s Day. I joke with my mother that I don’t need to give her a gift as long as I’m still around. And my mother always says, “All I want is a hug and maybe a piece of chocolate cake.” I added the latter – she doesn’t actually say that but I think that’s what she would love to have, in addition to that hug.

As you might recall from previous posts, my mother is also my biggest culinary influence. She is the original “cook with what you have” cook. And she does it with style and for a dozen people on the fly practically weekly. She also lives 13 miles from the nearest grocery store. And she has the most bottomless and varied of all chest freezers (all home-grown too)– far better than most stores!

I don’t know about you, but it’s not always easy cooking with other people and in other people’s kitchens. And my mother, who is a very fast and efficient cook, does not always love sharing her kitchen with others. But whenever I’m at her house I inevitably cook and we have such a seamless rhythm together in the kitchen and she never fails to note how much she loves to have me in the kitchen. I’m sure it’s that we’ve worked side-by-side in kitchens for 30 +  years but it still seems noteworthy that it’s such fun.

We do have our culinary disagreements, particularly about what constitutes properly cooked meat and fish. She’s more of well-done type! And she doesn’t quite see the point of stocking two different kinds of olive oil: one for finishing dishes, salad dressings, etc. and one for sauteeing and such. But beyond that, we’re pretty similar. We just cooked Easter dinner together and I have to admit, even though the leg of lamb was more done that I would have chosen, it was very good.

So I think we should celebrate mothers and daughters for the whole month of May this year and I’ve scheduled a class on Sunday, May 16th for you mothers and daughters who would like to spend a few hours in my kitchen with each other and cook together. And if you’d like a private class with another mother/daughter pair or two either in my kitchen or yours we’ll schedule something!

And speaking of spring and Easter and Mother’s Day. … home-made mayonnaise season has started in my house! It is actually never really not in season, it’s just that now that my chives, oregano and parsley are prolific in the garden I love it even more. We had fried razor clams the night before Easter and dipped them in herbed mayo; last week we ate it with sweet potato fries (made with lime juice and cilantro), and this week it will go in the egg salad (using up all those easter eggs).

Homemade Mayonnaise with Fresh Herbs

2 egg yolks (organic or from a local farm if possible)

1 -2 tsps lemon juice (plus possibly a bit more to taste at the end) or white wine vinegar in a pinch

Couple of pinches of kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

3/4 – 1 cup or more of safflower oil or canola or some neutral vegetable oil

Herbs you have on hand (good with chives, parsley, basil, chervil, tarragon, etc.)

Whisk egg yolks with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Then very, very gradually start pouring in the oil in a very thin stream, whisking as you go. After you’ve incorporated about 1/4 cup of oil you can start speeding things up a bit. Continue until you have a consistency you like. It will get thicker and stiffer the more oil you add. Add chopped herbs at the end and add more salt and/or lemon juice if it needs more tang.

Aioli

To make the classic French garlicky mayonnaise (aioli), mash as many cloves of garlic as you want (you can start with as few as two and go up to about 10 for a very spicy, strong aioli) with some coarse salt with the side of a chef’s knife (or in a mortar) until you have a fairly smooth paste. Add the garlic paste to the egg yolks, lemon juice and salt and proceed as with the mayo above. Typically aioli does not have fresh herbs in it but sometimes I add some chives or parsley or basil. And traditionally you would use olive oil for this but I find that it often gets too bitter and strong if you use 100% olive oil so I suggest you use half very good-tasting extra virgin olive oil and half sunflower or some other more neutral oil.