You buy a bunch of mint or cilantro for a recipe. The recipe uses a few sprigs out of the bunch. The rest wilts in your fridge. Next time, you skip the fresh herbs and the dish does not taste as good. Grrrrrrrrr.
There are a lot of ways to preserve fresh herbs so that they don’t go to waste and so that you can have the extra deliciousness that fresh herbs have to offer on hand when you are improvising. You can make them into pesto and freeze it in cubes (pistachio mint pesto , cilantro pepita pesto, cilantro pesto with sunflower seeds and jalapeno). Or just invent a pesto with whatever nuts, cheese, herbs, oils and spicy something something you have on hand.
You can incorporate them into fritters to also use up grains and cheese that you have kicking about. Take a look at Amaranth Herb Fritters and Green Fritters with Herb Sauce to get the idea.
Another way is to make a green chutney! I eat green chutney with spiced, roasted vegetables and or chick peas and something crunchy on top (see Aloo Chaat Inspired Oven Fries and Butternut Squash Chaat to get the idea). Green chutneys also make a nice sauce for chicken, seafood or eggs.
Please don’t get too fussed about having all of the exact ingredients.
- Don’t have dates? Just use some sugar.
- Lemon juice and lime juice and vinegar can all be used in place of each other.
- Use whatever hot green pepper you can find or use some cayenne or skip it if you aren’t into heat.
- The coconut is totally optional in the mint chutney.
- The peanuts in the cilantro chutney could probably be replaced with cashews, almonds or pistachios.
Whether you follow the recipe or adapt it, remember to taste it and adjust the sugar, salt and sour until it tastes good to you!
My current favorite green chutney recipe is from Made in India by Meera Sodha), which is a cookbook that I honestly can’t recommend highly enough. The recipes are simple, homey and fresh. They make you feel like you could just make Indian food for dinner any old night. It’s a treasure. I like to use this chutney as a dipping sauce for fried green plantains.
CILANTRO PEANUT CHUTNEY (adapted from Made in India by Meera Sodha)
- 4 oz cilantro (2 bunches)
- 2 oz roasted, unsalted peanuts (scant 1/2 cup)
- The juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup), seeds strained out
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 or 3 green chilis (I use 2 jalapenos, with the seeds in)
- Place the cilantro into a bowl of cold water and agitate to get any sand or dirt off. Let the dirt settle and pull the clean cilantro out of the water. Shake the cilantro to dry it a bit, roughly chop the stems and leaves and drop them in a food processer or blender.
- Add the peanuts, lemon juice, salt, brown sugar, turmeric and jalepenos. Process until the chutney is smooth and creamy with some flecks of darker green. Taste it and adjust the sugar, salt and sour until it tastes good to you!
This one is based on a recipe from the excellent, super healthy food blog My New Roots. It appears in along side a really lovely recipe for “samosa” that are wrapped in rice wrappers and baked. Some talented hippy cook at the healthfood lunch counter used to make something similar on Maui (where I grew up). It’s really a good idea, so I’m not surprised that more than one person has thought of it.
I’ve gradually changed the chutney a bit over the years. I like my chutney on the sweet side so I’ve doubled the dates and at some point I started adding shredded coconut.
MINT AND COCONUT CHUTNEY (inspired by My New Roots)
- 2 cups mint leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced or grated ginger
- 3 or 4 pitted medjool dates
- 1 hot green pepper with the seeds (I use a jalapeno because they are readily available)
- the juice of 1 or 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup shredded fresh or dry, unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2-4 Tablespoons water as needed
Directions- Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until their are no large clumps of date or garlic. Taste it and adjust the sugar, salt and sour until it tastes good to you!
MORE USES FOR FRESH HERBS…
4 Comments Add yours
Everything is better with pesto!
Mint and ginger are so good together!
Erin, Thanks for your wonderful blog email. I’ve been enjoying so much. We think of you and Chris Miley up in your apt there. We are fine. In our situation fortunately not much has changed for us as retirees. We love our home, nested here. Always things to enjoy and as you well know nature abounds here. Your mum and I keep in touch from time to time. Now by phone. yesterday we found ourselves in a marathon conversation shared past life stories,🤣from young women starting our independent lives. Well we became animated, excited & interested in each other’s life and our similar experiences in some cases. I bet it was well over an hour! Great fun. Should keep us going for awhile!😉😮🤣👍💃🏼She is doing well after the awful surgery and recovery. Loved your Valentine story, the visuals were beautiful! Take care be safe so sorry to see NY is under attack with the pandemic. For now dear woman. Hugs Allanah recent pics but one of me from Toronto days I think 2012 going to my sisters Thanksgiving dinner! Much younger🤣I loved my 60’s now 73 rapidly aging🤣
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I love to think of you in your cozy, beautifully curated home. My mum was so energized by your long talk. You will see more of me here. As my employment winds up I’ll be spending all of my time cooking most likely!