So many recipes call for fresh herbs, but it’s rare you use a whole bunch in one go. The bad news is they rarely last for longer than a few days, even if you store them properly (see how to do that here). So how do you stop them from going to waste?
Herb butter is an easy, quick way to transform wilting herbs into tasty capsules of flavour that’ll last you for months. Roughly chop whatever herbs you have (finely chop and add the stalks of soft herbs, but discard woody stems), then combine with softened butter. Finely chop or grate in any leftover chillies, garlic or even ginger, if you like, then place onto a piece of greaseproof paper. Wrap it up into a cylinder shape, twisting the ends of the greaseproof to secure. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up, remove and slice the butter into rounds, then return to the freezer. Add to fish, steaks or veggies while they’re cooking for delicious flavour, or melt into finished risottos. So tasty!
Alternatively, blitz or chop up herbs, place into ice cube trays, pour in olive oil and freeze. Once set, pop them out and place into sandwich bags. Use them instead of olive oil during cooking for lovely added flavour.
Salsa verde is perfect for using up leftover soft herbs and you can adapt it to suit whatever you have. If you have coriander or mint, make a Mexican-style salsa and serve it with tacos, fajitas or grilled meat. Or, if it’s parsley or basil you have, turn it into an Italian salsa verde and eat it with roast meats, grilled fish or smeared onto bruschetta. Here are a couple of recipes to guide you, but feel free to scale the recipe to suit the amounts you have. If you’re not intending on using it straight away, cover and store in the fridge for a few days, or pop it in the freezer.
Mexican salsa verde (pictured on board)
Peel and finely slice 1 clove of garlic on a board, peel or trim ¼ of a red onion or 2-3 spring onions, then finely slice along with 1-2 fresh chillies (deseeded if you like). Chop and mix it all together on the board. On the same board, dice 1 tomato or tomatillo. Chop the leaves and the top part of the stalks from 1 handful of fresh coriander and/or mint), then continue chopping and mixing it all together on the board. Squeeze over the juice from ½ a lime, season with salt, then have a taste and add more lime juice and salt, if needed.
Italian salsa verde (pictured in bowl)
Peel and roughly chop 1 clove of garlic, then add to a pestle and mortar or a food processor. Add 1 tablespoon of capers and 2-3 anchovies, then bash well or blitz until broken down. Muddle in 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar) and 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Chop and add the leaves and top part of the stalks from 1 handful of fresh parsley, basil and/or mint. Bash well – it’s up to you how smooth or chunky you want it – season carefully with salt and black pepper, then serve.
So there you have it – several easy ways to add tasty flavour to food and save your herbs at the same time!