Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Good Herb(s)

The Topic: Tasting tasty tastiness with VN Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria

The Dish: So you know how you can pretty much eat miso every night for dinner without fail because it's there and it's cheap, and it makes you feel good? I'm not here to criticize miso, or any other less-than-exhilarating diet mainstay, because they are staples for a darn fine reason. But I tell you what: even the brokest-as-a-joke-est among us craves the thrill of flavor. Sometimes, a simple soup, even one as tried-and-true as miso just isn't going to cut it. That, friends, is where things get herby.

Herbs are basically little flavor packets just waiting to get tossed into your boring dinner. And then guess what? Your dinner is no longer boring! It's definitely magic. Herbs will run you about $5 for a huge bunch at the farmers' market, and they make just about everything you can imagine taste terrific. Abby's Biscuits are stellar on their own, but with a little boost from fresh herbs, they're even better. So simple, and yet so freaking delicious. Tossing together a quick, weeknight salad? Great idea! Chiffonade some basil and you've turned your salad into something a gourmet would serve. (Not only for the basil, of course, you get extra points for "chiffonade.") 

Want to shop closer to home? Skip the farmers' market and head straight for Trader Joe's, which sells a potted herb garden that can last you through many weeks of mighty fine meals. Or, try out a gardening class at your local Armstrong Garden Center. Not only are the classes free, but you're usually invited to take home the herb of your choice after learning how to not kill your plants immediately.

If, for some unfathomable reason, you aren't able to use all the herbs from your bounty, you should ask yourself two questions:
  1. Really? Because once you get a taste of easy, dreamy Tempeh Sandwiches with fresh thyme, Foccacia Pizza with any herb that tickles your fancy, or even just a quick bruschetta of tomatoes, fresh basil, chopped garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper, it seems likely that your stash will quickly disappear.
  2. If, somehow, you've eaten every delicious thing under the sun and still find yourself rolling in rosemary, take heart. Abby's mom just so happens to have a perfectly wonderful Lavender-Rosemary Scrub waiting to make good use of your leftover herbs—especially if they happen to be rosemary and lavender.
The Final Word: Get ye some herbs. They're abundant this time of year, and there's just no good reason to suffer through a beige, bland dinner. Perk up your most hardscrabble meal with a fresh pop of herbs, and never resign yourself to tired standbys again. Tastiness achieved.

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