I can’t be around sage leaves without manhandling them. Rubbing a few suede-like leaves between my fingers is like my own personal herbal perfume for the day. Fresh basil in the summer; smokey thyme in the fall; piney rosemary in the winter. Fresh herbs make me want to cook, including in the raw, like ripe summer tomatoes with a sprinkling of mint, basil, or chives; a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of vinegar or spritz of lemon, and a little sea salt. Add a tear of crusty bread. Done: perfect summer snack. Here, 20 recipes to inspire you with fresh herbs.
Typically paired with zucchini or lamb, and often used in desserts, mint can give a savory preparation a new twist. Like a potent basil, it adds an unexpected zing to dishes.
Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese Bruschetta This came together one afternoon recently and it’s already on the short list. Delicious!
Tomato, Watermelon, and Mozzarella Salad Inspired by a local San Diego chef who made this without the mozzarella, it’s my new favorite summer salad.
Veal Meatballs with Spicy Peas These may not look inspiring, but trust me, they are a light and delicious version of a meatball with a lemony kick. I’m officially addicted.
A classic summer herb, basil is an excellent pairing with summer tomatoes and mozzarella as a caprese salad. You can also make a pesto (see below) and use it to garnish the tomato and/or mozzarella. Basil almost always makes a great last-minute garnish on pasta and sometimes I toss it in a green salad too.
Classic Ligurian Pesto I have to get my pesto fix about once a month. If you have a food processor, this is ready in 10 minutes.
Pesto alla Trapanese (Sicilian) This is a great story about how sailors from Liguria brought pesto to Sicily on their travels and Sicilians changed it up with their own local ingredients. More of a subtle flavor than classic pesto, but equally delicious.
Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce (Summer) I learned this recipe from a Tuscan chef while living in Italy. Ripe summer tomatoes and good extra virgin olive oil could not taste better here; the richness easily fools you into thinking it’s a cream sauce. Make this before summer tomatoes are gone.
Fusilli with Eggplant, Tomato, and Basil I copied this recipe off the back of a pasta box in Italy and it has been in the rotation ever since. Basil is a key ingredient here.
Baked Eggs with Tomatoes and Herbs This was a surprising favorite among Let There Be Bite readers. A fun way to switch it up from plain old scrambled eggs.
Tomato and Basil Bruschetta An oldie but a goodie. Plus, impress friends and family (not to mention Olive Garden announcers) by pronouncing it correctly: “Brew-SKE-tta”!
Italian parsley–which has a much more enjoyable flavor and texture than American parsley–is always in my refrigerator. I chop it fresh over pasta, into eggs, in soups and roasts: you name it.
Tabouleh/Kisir This bulgur wheat salad has been topping my bagel and cream cheese for years, but makes a great snack on its own. Little did I know it was so easy to make! (Thanks to my Turkish friend, Zerrin, for her input on this one!)
2 cups bulgur wheat
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Juice of 2 lemons
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons pomegranate syrup (optional but recommended)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
10 green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 oz feta cheese (optional)
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
Place bulgur wheat in a large heat-resistant bowl. Add boiling water to bulgur; then add the lemon juice, tomato paste, and sea salt. Mix well to combine and let sit for 30 minutes (bulgur will soften).
In a small bowl, mix the pomegranate syrup and olive oil together. After the bulgur has rested for 30 minutes, add the syrup-oil mix to the bulgur and mix to combine. Add parsley, basil, green onion, cucumber, tomato, and feta. Season with salt and pepper and add more lemon juice if necessary.
Chimichurri A typical Argentinian dressing for grilled steak, this garlic-and-vinegar-based sauce can punch up plenty of dishes (my friend loves to drizzle it on his turkey sandwiches).
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Mix all ingredients together and let marinate, 2-3 hours preferably.
I love chives: the faint taste of onions in a lemony herb. I like it chopped into salads or over eggs, and recently I used leftover garlic chives in a half-basil, half-chive pesto to go with roast chicken. Um, yes.
Baked White Sea Bass with Chive Bread Crumbs A way to give white fish some punch while still letting the protein sing for itself.
Anchovy-Chive Dressing for Fish If you want to make it even easier on yourself, an Italian chef taught me this delicious topping for fish: Put 4 anchovies and one bunch of fresh chives in a food processor and mix briefly until creamy. Even anchovy opposers might be swayed.
Thyme is a potent herb that goes well with vegetables, soups, and meats.
Garlic-Dijon Salad Dressing A family favorite.
Roasted Artichokes I love making this recipe with baby artichokes—you barely have to clean out the choke.
Farfalle with Artichokes and Mushrooms Thyme and marjoram are excellent herbal pairings for mushrooms.
Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce (Summer) Had to get this one in again!
Potatoes Dauphinoise You will go Homer Simpson comatose over how good this comfort food is.