5 Weird And Wonderful Ways To Use Your Summer Herbs
by Louise Kemp on Aug 28, 2023
Want to bring the most interesting and cool dish to your friend's garden get-together? Want everyone there to be super impressed at your culinary intuition, mixing seemingly random flavours to create greatness? Want them to insist you open your own restaurant? Want to go through the harrowing process of starting a new business? Want to stress for months over whether anyone will show up? Want to witness the spark of joy appear in your first customer’s eyes as devour your signature dish? Want your new restaurant to start gaining traction and becoming the talk of the town? Want to be named restauranter of the year?
Okay, maybe I can’t promise all of that. Except for having the most interesting dish at the get-together, that one I’m pretty confident in. And possibly, your friends thinking you are cool (depends on the friends really. Some might call you crazy but let's be honest, the best ones always are).
Summer herbs are incredibly versatile, flavourful and refreshing. They can brighten up any meal. But if you are getting a bit bored of always doing the same ‘safe’ things with them, here are 5 inventive flavour combos that may seem strange but taste amazing!
Bonkers Basil Recommendation
Basil’s great. I love basil. I would have basil with everything if I could. Its warm, crisp flavour adds a refreshing layer to many meals. Basil is often used as a garnish but is also a core ingredient in pesto, many pasta dishes and Caprese salad. But did you know it pairs really well with strawberries? One of my favourite summer treats is strawberry/basil ice cream. Super easy to make, just let the ice cream become soft, grind some dried basil with FinaPod MAX (dealer’s choice on how much) into the ice cream and stir to mix the two together. The sweetness of the strawberry balances super well with the sharpness of the basil. The whole dish is just so refreshing, perfect for sitting in the back garden on a warm summer’s day without a cloud in the sky.
I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist the bad pun. But that is literally my recommendation here. Grind your dried thyme (using your FinaPod MAX) and make it into tea! Not only does thyme’s lingering taste work really well in this context, but Thyme also has a bunch of health benefits too.
Coriander’s more interesting counterpart, Culantro
Okay, two things up front. This entry is more to promote culantro as a fun spice that more people should be using. And two, I do like cilantro, it’s just I see way more people cooking with coriander than culantro and I think that’s a shame. Indigenous to tropical America and the South Indies, coriander's spicier cousin packs a layered spiciness that isn’t just heat. It works excellently in Mexican or Spanish dishes but I typically add some to my chutneys to give them extra ‘kick’ or as a barbecue rub. The latter is always fun as people have a tougher time identifying the flavour. One small note, Culantro has a much more intense flavour than coriander so don’t go too crazy with it. Add small, incremental amounts until you are happy with the results.
A Corny Proposal
Tarragon’s anise flavour makes it a perfect companion to ‘comfort dishes’ like potato salad, chicken pot pie, turkey stuffing or butter sauces. And to be honest, I think my suggestion here fits perfectly into that category. When boiling sweetcorn, try replacing the salt in the pot with ground and dried tarragon (FinaPod MAX). The flavour permeates (oohhh a big word) the water and adds a subtle edge to corn’s flavour. What I love about this is that because the tarragon flavour is very surface level, you get a full flavour journey with every bite.
You’ve heard of rosemary fries….
Which are delicious by the way. Another strong-tasting herb which requires a softer taste pairing. Predominantly used to season roasted pork, chicken or veggies to give them a bit more zest. It'ss great that rosemary fries seem to be becoming more mainstream but I have another similar dish for you that I feel is being slept on. Rosemary Popcorn! Again, this one is super easy. Simply infuse some olive oil with ground dried rosemary (use your FinaPod MAX for best results), pop some popcorn (you can use storebought for this so long as it's not completely doused in butter) and coat the popcorn in the oil. It tastes great and makes me feel a lot better about the amount of popcorn I eat during movie night.
BONUS: Now you didn’t hear it from me…
Okay so I felt a bit bad about the Culantro entry as it didn’t actually give any too out of the box flavour combinations so here’s a bonus one for those who managed to get this far. This one involves lemongrass, a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine that cuts through the intense flavours with zest. Well according to a friend (we’ll call her Louisa), lemongrass also really helps bring out the flavour in vodka. Now it's up to you what you do with that information.
And that’s it! Six (lucky you) fun flavour combinations to impress and astound all your friends at the summer potluck. Remember lil old me when you achieve restaurant stardom.