Winter is Coming: Thyme for Some Sage Advice
October 19, 2014 1:39 PM   Subscribe

I have seven days to use my herb garden harvest before prepping the plants for winter. Ideas needed!

My container herb garden did very well this year. Unfortunately, due to travel and work obligations this summer, I haven't had much time to actually use the bountiful harvest. I'm planning to winterize the garden next weekend, which involves paring down the plants and putting them in a popup seed house (this has worked well to save most of the plants for the last few years).

So, I have 7 days to use a LOT of:


I cook a lot, but life stresses have zapped my creativity recently. There's only so much roast chicken and sage brown butter one can make in a week. Herb butter and frozen herb cubes are a last resort.

Assume the following:

Cooking for 2 adults (but can scale recipes)
No dietary restrictions; all cuisines are fine
I have any cooking equipment that may be needed
I can get most specialty ingredients
I don't need specific recipes (but feel free to link/share if particularly great)
Preference for less than 1hr prep/cook time
Appetizers, sides, mains, desserts, etc are all welcome

Hit me with your best ideas!
posted by melissasaurus to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Don't drive yourself nuts. Chiffonade and store in baggies in the freezer. YUM!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:44 PM on October 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

Search for recipes for 'aloo pudina,' which is mint and potato curry.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:45 PM on October 19, 2014

The first thing that comes to mind is a whole ton of different flavored pestos. You could use up all the basil this way and some of the other herbs as well.

Pesto with sage, pesto with thyme, pesto with mint, pesto with oregano.

Then you could can it and use it over the course of the winter in pasta, on sandwiches, and as a dressing for roasts.
posted by donut_princess at 1:45 PM on October 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Make pesto with the basil and freeze the pesto. You'll thank yourself in the dead of winter.

Vanilla thyme ice cream is a thing, and it's delicious.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 1:46 PM on October 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I freeze sage in baggies in the freezer and add it to corn bread all winter long. The frozen leaves crumble very nicely.

I also use sage on pork tenderloin.
posted by TORunner at 1:47 PM on October 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can also use any or all of these to make your own flavored vodka. Just pop the herbs in some vodka for a few days. Any herb vodka with mashed berries or stone fruit is basically THE JAM.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:48 PM on October 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas so far everyone. Just to clarify: I'm aware of how to save/preserve the herbs in the freezer, but would prefer to actually use them this week in new recipes because I enjoy cooking and will actually have some time this week to cook.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:51 PM on October 19, 2014

All of these dry just fine. Mint is better fresh, of course, and thyme leaves can be small and fussy, but drying them is always an option. Rinse briefly, pat dry, lay on a paper towel in a dry environment for a few days, done. This works perfectly for me in the Minnesota cool season, your experience may vary in more humid places.

If you decide to freeze any of these (especially basil), wrap the package extremely well to stop the flavor from migrating to other things in the freezer.

Infused vinegars and oils are an option, too. They can make really nice small gifts to give away. Craft stores or World Market are good sources for small/medium bottles for this, or if you have a home brewing supply store nearby, bottles with swing-top porcelain and wire stoppers are perfect. I do this with leftover tarragon.
posted by gimonca at 1:58 PM on October 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

(Sorry, starting typing that before your reply was in.)
posted by gimonca at 1:59 PM on October 19, 2014

Reply 2: try a mint, yogurt, cucumber sauce for gyros or roast lamb (or roast just about anything).
posted by gimonca at 2:02 PM on October 19, 2014

Thai chicken curry is a yummy way to use up a bunch of basil leaves. You might also check out answers to this old question which will have some ideas for the basil and sage.
posted by DrGail at 2:23 PM on October 19, 2014

My garden has about the same herbs!

I second pesto and highly recommend you use it on pizza instead of tomato sauce. I like the combo of sage pesto+pumpkin+feta, yum. Also yum: basil pesto+cooked red beets+goat cheese! If you have Parmesan in the house, put some on top right before you eat. I also always put fresh greens like arugula and spinach on top of my pizza.
Here is a nice blog with lots of great pizza recipes (I use a different gf recipe for dough, so can only comment on the toppings).

Have some of the mint as tea (you could add lemon and/or honey to taste). I also like to use my mint in a Turkish recipe for stuffed eggplant, Fainting Imam.

The thyme is very lovely in bean soups. Lately I've been loving this one white bean fennel soup with some modifications (add dill! swap out spinach for kale once in a while!)

Oregano pesto is good with salmon. Also nice is this roasted pumpkin with feta and oregano.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:25 PM on October 19, 2014

Ina Garten's roasted tomato basil soup uses a TON of basil, and I like to throw in thyme and oregano for funsies too. It's delicious and hearty.
posted by just_ducky at 2:39 PM on October 19, 2014

I've made these Rosemary Butter Cookies with thyme instead of the rosemary. Basil or mint would probably be good, too.
posted by Weeping_angel at 2:45 PM on October 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have a last summer fling and make Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.
posted by CathyG at 5:13 PM on October 19, 2014

Please, please make ash reshteh. It's a an incredibly delicious Persian dish that was made for this type of herb hemorrhage. All of the herbs you list will work. Basically chop up or food process mass quantities of your herbs, plus spinach and parsley or cilantro and cook them down in olive oil for a good hour. Add stock, kidney or garbanzo beans and egg noodles (reshteh noodles if you can find them) to make the mosk kick-ass hearty stew of awesomeness. Top with kashk (or sour cream) and crispy fried red onions mixed with mint. I am so excited for you!
posted by le_salvo at 7:04 PM on October 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Put a couple big handfuls of basil into some good mayo and purée in your food processor for the best BLTs of all time, especially if you can still get a good tomato or two, ala this recipe:
posted by purenitrous at 7:12 PM on October 19, 2014

Green veggie soup with gremolata
Lots of (mostly) green veggies, about 3 cups' worth when chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
shallot, finely chopped
butter/olive oil
stock/stock cubes + water, about 5 cups
salt & pepper
gremolata (below)
greek yogurt

Make up the veggies according to what you like and what's in season. In winter I tend to use broccoli, zucchini, turnip/swede (not green but available). In summer try broccoli, broccolini, zucchini, asparagus, peas, squash, etc. I've not tried leafy veg like kale, bok choy, spinach or silverbeet but I bet it would work.

Sauté the shallot in butter/oil on very low heat. Add vegies, potatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until vegies are tender. You can reserve some veg (eg broccoli) and add them towards the end of the cooking for an interesting colour/texture contrast. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

good-sized handful of each of 3 herbs - basil is mandatory, others could be oregano, thyme, dill, parsley, finely chopped
zest of one lemon
clove of garlic, minced finely
You can food-process all of this together if you like, or just chop a lot. Mix all together.

Ladle soup into a bowl. Put a big dollop of Greek yogurt and another one of gremolata on top of the soup. Yuuuuummm.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:40 PM on October 19, 2014

Somewhat similar to the suggestions for ash reshteh, I cannot recommend enough when one is burdened with a bounty of herbs to make ghormeh sabzi. It sounds actually exactly like the description of ash reshteh, except thoroughly meated up with some nice beef or lamb and a long braise. Any herb will do, a lot of parsley and dill and green onion in addition to what you have is good, and somehow the process of endlessly frying the herbs in olive oil and then the long simmer results in an incredible flavour unlike any stew I've ever had. Also fenugreek leaves, aka methi, which you can get dried are essential. Just max out on herbs and really you can't lose. Enjoy!
posted by kaspen at 8:27 PM on October 19, 2014

Green goddess dressing, salsa verde variants (capers need a place to swim) to dress anything, not just salads but potatoes, chicken, fish, sandwiches. Herb-focused potato salad. Plain ol' pasta with an oil-herb-cheese dressing/sauce. Panzanella or pappa al pomodoro, stuff with tomatoes. Lime basil sorbet. Infused simple syrup or vodka. Peach and tomato salad with lots of chiffonaded herbs. Seasonal slaws made with any crunchy fruit/veg combos that go well with your herbs (slaw can be so much more than cabbage--just made a blue cheese turnip radish one the other day that was delicious). Poached peaches or pears in herb syrup.
posted by ifjuly at 10:42 PM on October 27, 2014

« Older What are these colored dice?   |   Never really phoned there but I'd sure like to go. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.