By Crystal Grobe
We’ve had a container garden out on our little patio for years, but ever since moving into the city, our garden has become smaller and smaller with each passing year. At first, we tolerated the city squirrels taking bites out of our tomatoes and peppers, but after we lost most of the sun due to new construction across the way, we didn’t have many tomatoes and peppers to give up. This year we decided to go with just herbs, and so far it’s proved to be a lot more peaceful since there are no more shooing squirrels away with a broom.
Plus, there are a ton of uses for herbs, even the small amount I grow in my container garden. Here are few of my favorite ways to use herbs:
- Caprese Sandwich: Slice tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil. Serve on a baguette drizzled with olive oil.
- French Fries/Sweet Potato Fries: Chop a variety of herbs. Toss with fries just after baking.
- Herbed Cream Cheese: Mince herbs and combine thoroughly with cream cheese. Serve on a toasted bagel.
- Garlic Bread: Add parsley to butter, minced garlic and shredded Parmesan cheese. Spread over French bread and broil 1-2 minutes.
- Herb Salad: Toss leaves of parsley, basil, cilantro, oregano and thyme with a light vinaigrette
- Salad Dressing: Add julienned basil, oregano, or thyme to a basic vinaigrette
- Herbed Vegetables: Steam green beans or your favorite vegetable. Toss in chopped herbs.
- Tea: Steep herb leaves in hot water for 7-10 minutes. Use chamomile, basil, or lemon verbena. Can double as a face spritzer by putting in a spray bottle and storing in the refrigerator.
I also like to use herbs in drinks like mojitos, sangria and lemonade, and what’s better on a hot day than a really cold, desserty beverage? This recipe uses agave nectar, which is a sweetener that comes from the agave plant. This is a true sweetener (none of that artificial stuff) used in place of honey due to its similar look and feel. You can find it in the organic section of your grocery store or at your co-op.
This dessert is great for both kids and adults to enjoy. The kids can still have a mint muddle (minus the rum) and the adults have a fun treat to enjoy, too. So refreshing!
Mango-Pineapple Mojito Sorbet
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into an 8-inch-square pan and freeze for several hours, stirring it once an hour. Recipe adapted from “Sweet! From Agave to Turbinado” by Mani Niall (DaCapo, 2008).
- ¾ pound peeled and pitted fresh mango, cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1 ¼ cups agave syrup
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 36 fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons agave syrup
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ½ cup silver rum
To make the sorbet: Prepare ice cream maker according to product directions. In blender, combine mango, pineapple juice, agave syrup and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Pour into ice cream maker. Freeze according to product directions.
To make mojito muddle: Just before serving, in small bowl, use wood spoon or muddler to mash mint and agave syrup. Stir in lime juice and rum. Taste. Add more agave syrup, if desired.
To serve: Divide mojito muddle among 6 cocktail glasses. Top with sorbet.