Herbs hanging

Add Fresh Herbs for Flavor and Beauty

Tomatoes and basil; potatoes and rosemary; salmon and dill. Perfect partners in summer dishes, of course, but seasoned cooks know that fresh herbs are a year-round ingredient for just about any meal. Herbs are the easiest of all edible plants to grow — whether in a small pot on your windowsill, in a container on your patio, or tucked in-between other vegetables or flowers in garden beds — and a pinch here or a sprig there will add major flavor, fragrance and beauty to everything from meats and fish to oil and honey.

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GARDEN SALAD WITH HERB & HONEY DRESSING

SERVES 4

            Pretty-as-a-picture and delicious, too, this salad includes fresh herbs and edible flowers and is dressed with a sweet-ish citrus and honey dressing.

For the salad

5 ounces mixed salad greens

2 to 3 ounces mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, mint and basil

Mixed fresh edible flowers, such as nasturtiums and violas (optional)

Salt

Ground pepper

For the dressing

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons citrus honey

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt

Ground pepper

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chervil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Make salad. In a large bowl, toss salad greens, herbs and flowers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Make dressing. In a small bowl or lidded jar, combine orange juice, honey, olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper and herbs; whisk or shake until blended. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently.

FRESH HERB SAUCE

MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP

            This simple, fresh herb sauce goes well with steak, chicken, pork, lamb and seafood.

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped oregano

Ground pepper

1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. In a small bowl, combine shallot, garlic, vinegar, and salt; let sit 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, parsley, oregano, pepper and pepper flakes; whisk in oil. 

COD IN A PARCEL WITH HERB BUTTER      

SERVES 4

Cook these cod fillets in a foil or parchment “parcel” with wine, mushrooms and herb butter. You can easily adapt this recipe to whatever thick white fish is available, and if you prefer a little more punch, substitute the Tomato-Thyme butter that follows (substitute tomatoes for the mushrooms). This herb butter is also a delicious addition to grilled, broiled, or poached fish or with boiled or mashed potatoes.

For the herb butter

2 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon chopped shallot

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

Salt 

2 teaspoons lemon pepper

For the fish

4 cod fillets 

1/2 cup chopped wild mushrooms, wiped clean

1 small leek (white part only), chopped

1 small stalk celery, julienned

1 small carrot, julienned

2 to 3 sprigs fresh herbs such as parsley, chives or thyme

1/4 cup dry white wine

Boiled or mashed potatoes, for serving

1. Make butter. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or mini food processor. Mash or pulse until blended and smooth.

2. Make fish. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large ovenproof baking pan with buttered aluminum foil.

3. Place the cod fillets in the prepared pan and cover with the mushrooms, leeks, celery, carrots, and herbs. Pour the wine around the fish, dot each piece with 1 tbsp. herb butter (refrigerate leftover butter in a small plastic container), and wrap, sealing the edges well. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes.

4. To serve, remove from the oven and unwrap the fish. Place 1 piece in the center of each serving plate and spoon the sauce over. Serve with the potatoes.

TOMATO-THYME BUTTER

MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

1. On a rimmed baking sheet, broil tomatoes until skins brown and release their juices, about 6 minutes. In a food processor, pulse tomatoes with thyme, salt and pepper.

2. Add butter; process until smooth. Use immediately freeze for up to 3 months.

DUBLINER HERB POTS

SERVES 6

            These tasty little cheese pots are delicious served as a starter with crusty bread. Add a green salad and you’ve got a light lunch! The recipe first appeared in a small promotional cookbook featuring Dubliner cheese.

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

4 ounces Dubliner cheese, grated

Sea salt

Ground pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary 

6 bay leaves, for serving 

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Coat six 6-ounce ramekins with butter flavored cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, cheese, salt, pepper, parsley, chives and rosemary. Spoon into prepared dishes.

3. Place ramekins in a large baking dish; fill with hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.

4. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the filing is set. Serve warm with an upright bay leaf in each.

    Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page also includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed copy of her cookbooks, visit irishcook.com