Herbs Add Fresh Flavor to the Menu
If you don't already have an herb garden on your window sill or planted in your backyard, be warned that after reading this you just may cross that line and come over to the gardening side.
There is nothing that adds flavor to food quite like fresh herbs. Even if you live in a windowless basement apartment, all you need is a grow light and you too can have 5 types of basil that you grew yourself.
You can always buy your herbs at the local market, too. If you do, be sure to save a sprig or two to place in a small glass of water to root for planting.
Think of a signature drink for your party, preferably something that you can mix in pitchers ahead of time. If you can get a hold of some fresh lemon balm, try making a lemon balm mojito. If you know anyone who grows it, they'll be glad to give you a handful. Grow it yourself and it will produce even in the worst summer weather. Another drink to think about making is a lime mint raspberry lemonade. You might be able to get special mints at the farmers' market, but if you grow them yourself you can have lemon, lime, orange and even chocolate mint.
Soup & Salad ~
Serve a simple salad dressed up with with herbs and goat cheese. I like to finely chop fresh herbs and roll goat cheese buttons in it to cover them. Top with fresh edible flowers, and serve on your best Noritake china. Your friends will feel like they are at a fancy restaurant instead of at your house. If you want to add a soup course, try a fresh pea soup pureed with tarragon. You can also cook a few carrots and puree them with chicken broth, thyme and a couple of lemon verbena leaves.
Main Course ~
For your main dish, you can always cook your protein with a strong herb like rosemary that stands up well to roasting. I like to make pesto myself to accent the entree. You can do it the traditional way with basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan; or, you can experiment with arugula paired with pistachios, or marjoram and hazelnut. I toss in lightly sauteed vegetables ~ whatever I can pick out of the garden or get at the farmers' market.
For dessert, try adding some chopped basil to your favorite pound cake recipe or even in ice cream. Your friends are sure to love it!
Article contributed by Kathy Hester