Saturday, April 10, 2010

Adventures with Herbs

One of my goals this season is to make better use of the culinary herbs that are thriving in my garden. I started this bed in 2008. Originally it contained a lemon basil, which of course is annual so it is long gone. In this photo the rosemary, oregano and marjoram are sprawling. Last year I grew some thyme in the bare spot on the right. Thyme apparently needs more attention than the other herbs, or at least more water, because it now, is also long gone. This year I'm planning on starting thyme from seed but I think I will fill the bare spot with sage, another hardy perennial herb. Currently, the garden includes a potted sage that has flourished there a few years.

In an effort to use these beautiful herbs, I prepared Sage Butter to serve over cheese raviolis earlier this week. I found the recipe in Silver Spoon, said to be "Italy's bestselling culinary bible." It's not much of a recipe actually. You simply melt 7 tablespoons butter over low heat and add about 15 fresh sage leaves as soon as the butter starts to color, then season with salt. When the leaves are crisp, remove them from the pan and serve. I must admit I was too impatient to wait for the leaves to crisp, and I did not brown the butter or add salt, but we enjoyed the dish nonetheless. The butter was delicately infused with fresh sage flavor for a mild sauce, the kind we prefer over raviolis in order to actually taste the cheeses inside.

A quick internet search yielded other versions of the recipe, some included shallot, lemon juice, ground black pepper and even garlic.


Bill Bird said...

We use our fresh herbs a lot for meal creations like "beer can chicken" and brined turkey. Just fill an empty can with wine and stuff it with fresh herbs -- insert into the body cavity of a chicken and put it on low on the grill. An hour later? Delicious grilled and herbed chicken that is moist and tender thanks to the herb-wine steam in the cavity. And Brined Turkey -- what can I say? It's the bomb!

Tom said...

Hi Christine,

I would like to speak to you about joining Sacramento Connect, a linking and social media network The Sacramento Bee recently started.

Thank you,

Tom Negrete
Managing Editor, Online
The Sacramento Bee
(916) 321-1171

Christine said...

Your version of "beer can chicken" sounds great, Bill. I've never tried it with wine and never considered putting the herbs in the steaming liquid. I'm going to try it! Thanks.


I've ordered some basil to grow among my tomatoes along with chives and onions.

Your post has made me look forward to an early lunch.

Christine said...

Maybelline...I can't wait for the basil and cilantro to get going. I'm missing my flat-leaf parsley as well. Just waiting for the weather to stabilize.

Incorrigible said...

Sounds so good -- I have had sage in the garden for years, sadly neglected. I will give this recipe a try this week.

Every garden needs herbs.