by Nancy Sweet, director, LLCC culinary programs and operations
Have you planted your herbs for summer yet? I just did mine. Basil, of course – in fact four plants this year – as pesto is one of my favorite things, and it can last a long time. I also planted flat leaf parsley, rosemary, dill, oregano, mint, chives and thyme. But basil, parsley and mint are my workhorse herbs. Herbs add bright and fresh aromas and flavors plus they always make dishes more visually stunning.
Basil seems an obvious choice, but I think parsley and mint get a bad rap. Parsley is the perfect herb to bring a punch of freshness to almost anything. Mint can provide the “what is it I’m missing in this dish” sweet-herbal-savory balance to many summertime salads and sauces.
Makes 1 cup
2 cups basil leaves, packed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 -3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor, process the basil and garlic together for about 5 seconds. Add pine nuts and process until everything is fairly smooth, another 5 seconds. Scrape down sides of food processor bowl. Add lid back to processor, turn back on, and add oil (add less than full ¾ cup if you are happy with consistency). Add in cheese, lemon juice, and a big pinch of salt and pepper and process until just combined. If you are choosing to freeze your pesto, don’t add the cheese. Wait until you have pulled it from the freezer and de-frosted it and then add cheese.
Serves 2 – 4
Salting and straining the vegetables to get rid of the extra liquid so you don’t end up with a watery salad.
1/2 cup quick cook bulgur (Bob’s Red Mill is a good brand)
1 ripe tomatoes, diced
½ cup Kalamata olives, diced
1 medium cucumber, diced (peel if you prefer)
½ large or 1 small red onion, diced
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a small pan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Stir in bulgur and season with a pinch of salt. Let boil for about 1 minute. Cover, turn off heat and let sit about 15 minutes to absorb water. Fluff with a fork when done and transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl.
In the meantime, put diced tomatoes and cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Let drain.
Add tomato, olives, cucumber, onion, and herbs to bulgur and stir. Stir in lemon juice, olive oil, feta and salt and pepper to taste.
Fresh Herbs with Corn, Asparagus, and Chickpeas
Makes 4 side dishes
1 bunch fresh parsley, stems discarded and roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems discarded and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh dill, stems discarded and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh mint, stems discarded and roughly chopped
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 2 lemons, plus more as needed, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels sliced off (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends discarded and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (7-ounce) container Greek yogurt, preferably 2%
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Combine the parsley, cilantro, dill, and mint in a large serving bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a 12-inch skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shallots and a pinch of salt, cooking until softened, about 2 minutes. Add cumin and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Add corn, asparagus, and chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Stir together yogurt and lime in a small bowl. In a serving bowl, combine cooked vegetables and chickpeas with herbs. Season with salt and pepper and add more lemon juice, if necessary. Serve with yogurt alongside. Perfect with grilled fish.
Makes 1 cup
This sauce is great drizzled over anything grilled or as a dip on your next mezze platter.
3 tablespoons white miso
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons tahini
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ cups cilantro, stems trimmed
1/2 cup parsley, stems trimmed
1/3 cup sliced chives
1 ½ teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste
Pulse miso, lemon juice, lime juice, oil, tahini, vinegar, and honey in a food processor or a blender until miso is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Add cilantro, chives, ginger, and coriander and pulse until herbs are finely chopped; season with salt and pepper.
Lamb Chops alla Scottadito
12 lamb chops
4 garlic cloves smashed
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary or sage (or both)
2 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 anchovy fillets (optional)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh cracked pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine garlic, rosemary, mint, lemon zest, anchovies, salt, and pepper. Mix in oil. Dip lamb chops into bowl with seasoning and pat seasoning on. Transfer to a large either a container or a plastic bag and let marinate, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Prepare a grill over medium-high heat. Remove chops from marinade and brush off any excess oil or garlic cloves. Grill about 5 minutes per side for medium rare. (Chops can also be broiled in the oven in the same manner).
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.