What do I do with these herbs?
July 18, 2011 2:26 PM   Subscribe

We've got sage, chives, and sweet basil growing in small pots this summer. I've got a few recipes that use one or the other of them, but I know I could be doing more. What else can I do with them? We eat pretty much anything, except we avoid starches (so pasta, potatoes, or grain ideas won't help us much). I'm open to everything from "throw some chopped chives into scrambled eggs" to more formal recipes. Ethnic foods a plus, but hardly required.
posted by DrGail to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Use the basil with Parmesan and pine nuts or walnuts to make a pesto. You can add this to cooked chicken breast to make a nice salad, etc. Basil also makes a nice lemonade adulterant.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:38 PM on July 18, 2011

Sage and browned butter is awesome. Fry sage in butter and bake it into bread or put it on fish or popcorn. It's GREAT on popcorn.

Sage AND basil are both great additions to gin/vodka plus fruit juice type drinks. Vodka/strawberry/basil and gin/lemonade/sage are fab. Mess around with it! I wouldn't try this with chives though.

Put chives in egg salad or chicken salad.

Chive/radish/cream cheese is a great light sandwich, and could also be a good crudite.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:42 PM on July 18, 2011

Flavored savory yogurt has been a huge hit at recent parties. Use as a veggie dip.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:47 PM on July 18, 2011

Sage will also dry nicely, and is useful when dried (the other two just turn into dust, I think).
posted by Ideefixe at 4:14 PM on July 18, 2011

Roasted carrots with torn up sage leaves are delicious.

And once your chives start going to seed, pinch off the blooms. They're delicious -- especially in salads.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:15 PM on July 18, 2011

Finely chopped chives make a great topping for deviled eggs.

Pesto is a great use for the basil, even if you don't eat pasta. Try grilling a chicken breast, topping it with fresh mozzarella, and putting it in the toaster oven or under the broiler to melt the cheese a bit. Then top with the pesto.

Compound butters are a great use of any combination of the herbs. Soften some butter to around room temperature, mix in finely chopped herbs, and roll into a log in a piece of plastic wrap. Twist closed the ends and stick it in the freezer. Whenever you want to add a little buttery herb goodness to something (chicken, a grilled steak, steamed or roasted vegetables, etc.), just unwrap, slice off a pat of the butter, and add it to hot food. I also find that melting a compound butter like this and rubbing it on a chicken (either on the outside of the skin or under the skin if you like it crispy) is a great prelude to roasting.
posted by maxim0512 at 4:20 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Make bruschetta/ratatouille! You don't have to eat it on bread...in fact, either/both make good accompaniment to baked fish/chicken.

My bruschetta is (roughly) 3 medium tomatoes (pieces of varying size, at room temperature; also: don't get rid of the seeds/juice - that's the part where most of the tomato flavour lives), 1 Tb of balsamic vinegar, 1 small shallot or a few green onions, 2 cloves of garlic, shitloads of salt and pepper (that's a technical term, obviously), and a handful of basil, cut chiffonade. Chop, mix. Let it sit for about 30 minutes for the flavours to meld. Eat! I love it with buffalo mozzarella. You could also add some chives if you are so inclined.

There's also ratatouille. Chop vegetables into small pieces. I like to use whatever is in season. Right now it's: corn, zucchini, tomato, green onion, mushrooms, shallots and garlic. But you can literally just put in anything you like or that's available. Cook everything over high heat in good olive oil. Start with the shallots, then do the zucchini and mushrooms. Finally add everything else (I do boil the corn before adding it because otherwise it never quite turns out right). Cook for a minute or two. Add balsamic, seasoning, and lots of basil/chives/whatever else you want. Taste. Add shitloads of pecarino or parmesan cheese. Taste. Enjoy.

Basil is also a great flavour with strawberries.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:25 PM on July 18, 2011

With sage, I like to make a bean spread similar to this one, only I dump it all in the food processor and add 1/2 cup of grated parmesan or asiago cheese. It's delicious on toasted slices of french bread, though since you're avoiding starches you could use it as a veggie dip.
posted by janerica at 5:09 PM on July 18, 2011

Sage is great in saltimbocca. You'll need fresh sage, prosciutto, flour, oil, and either chicken, veal, or pork cutlets (I prefer pork as it goes nicely with the prosciutto). Very easy...lightly season/salt the cutlets (about 1/2 - 1/3 inch in thickness) and wrap in prosciutto, with some sage in the inside of the wrap. Pin off with a toothpick if it has a hard time sticking. Next, coat the cutlets in a thin layer of flour, and toss in a olive oil prepped frying pan at med-high heat until fully cooked (70% on one side, flip, and cook the rest of the way)..add pepper for a little kick. Make a white wine reduction with the remaining flavors in the pan if desired.

Sweet basil is fantastic in caprese salad (I substitute the oil with pomegranate vinaigrette to bring out the acidity of the tomatoes)
posted by samsara at 5:21 PM on July 18, 2011

I put sage in my homemade chicken stock. Along with other various secret ingredients. Chives, roasted red peppers, and shredded cheddar in scrambled eggs is divine.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:36 PM on July 18, 2011

I've seen a recipe for, but not tried, fried sage leaves -- just make a light batter and dip the leaves in and fry 'em.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:10 PM on July 18, 2011

Another idea for basil pesto: stuff eggplant rolls with it. I had this dish in Rome and I thought it was very clever and incredibly good.
posted by elisebeth at 8:21 AM on July 19, 2011

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