Whether used as a garnish or to flavour, herbs are a winner in any dish – and work for each season. Here're three irresistible herb-centric recipes to try.
herb salad with blueberries and a buttermilk dressing
Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: 10 minutes / Serves: 4
2T poppy seed
3 spring onions
200g snow peas
2t blossom honey
2T lemon juice
4t olive oil
1 cucumber, sliced lengthwise into thin slices
2 handfuls Asian salad greens
1 handful red basil
2T Chinese chives
2T mint leaves
salt, black pepper
Toast the poppy seed in a pan without oil and allow to cool. Clean the spring onions, cut the dark green part diagonally into thin rings, then place into icy water. Cut the light green and white parts into thin rings and set aside. Blanch the snow peas in salted boiling water for 1 minute. Refresh with cold water, drain well and cut lengthwise into fine strips. For the dressing, mix the buttermilk, honey, lemon juice, olive oil and poppy seed. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the dark spring onion rings from the water and shake dry. Gently combine the cucumber with the light and dark spring onions, Asian salad greens, all the herbs and the blueberries. Combine with the dressing just before serving.
herb pasta with thinly sliced zucchini
Prep time: 20 minutes / Cook time: 25 minutes / Serves: 4
2T lemon balm
2T red basil
2T flat-leaf parsley
30g pistachio nuts, roasted and salted
100g bacon, cut into 1cm cubes
1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into thin slices
1T sunflower oil
100ml vegetable stock
30ml lemon juice
salt, black pepper
Slice the chives into thin rings, and coarsely chop the remaining herbs and the pistachio nuts. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to pack instructions until al dente.
In the meantime, heat the oil in a pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Add the zucchini and fry for another minute. Add the cream and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Drain the pasta and add it, along with 100g ricotta, finely chopped herbs (keep two tablespoons aside) and lemon juice to the cream in the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the tagliatelle. Add the remaining (30 g) ricotta on top with a teaspoon. Sprinkle the remaining herbs and pistachio nuts over and serve.
lemon verbena syrup with vanilla
Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 35 minutes / Serves: 4
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
12g lemon verbena leaves (plus ½ handful of lemon verbena leaves for serving)
350ml lemon juice (6–7 lemons)
1 organic lemon, cut into thin slices
ice cubes for serving (if desired, freeze ice cubes with edible flowers or tarragon leaves)
cold sparkling water or champagne
Scrape out the vanilla seeds with the back of a knife. In a pot, bring the vanilla pod and seeds, sugar and 250ml water to the boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove, add the verbena leaves and stir. Allow to draw for 10 minutes. Pour through a sieve and retain the syrup.
Mix the syrup with the lemon juice. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute. Pour into a bottle or jug and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate.
Place 2–3 lemon slices, some ice cubes and 2-3 lemon verbena leaves in each glass. Pour 3–4 tablespoons of syrup on top and fill with sparkling water or champagne.
Makes about 650 ml syrup