The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 6, 2012

Amanda Stone: Herb garden a flavor haven

By Amanda Stone
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — Herb gardens deserve some recognition right now. Although it's chilly and pretty blustery outside, my herbs look fantastic.

A couple of years ago, I planted some herbs on a whim in an old metal trough. It had been painted haphazardly with spray paint to resemble camouflage. Terrible. I prettied it up with a fresh coat of paint and planted inside of it a few of my favorite herbs: Cilantro, rosemary, oregano and parsley.

Now my herbs are spilling over the sides of the trough Ñ they're more lush and green than they've been all year. Little did I know at that time that I had planted a culinary cool-weather herb garden. Thyme, sage, dill, fennel and chives all love cool weather as well. I need another trough.

Cool-weather herbs are a great way to continue getting fresh flavor from the garden throughout the winter. Roasted potatoes with rosemary, marinara made with oregano and tacos with sprigs of cilantro are all reminders for your palate that winter won't last forever.

Cilantro has always been a source of frustration for me. I love it so. Clearly, tomatoes and cilantro are meant to be together. What a cruel twist of fate that their paths barely cross. Tomatoes want heat, cilantro wants cold. It's an argument familiar in many relationships, but it doesn't have to be a deal-breaker for these salsa soul mates.

Freezing herbs is the best way to preserve their flavor. There are a few methods. You may chop them and push them into ice cube trays, then fill them with water and freeze. Store the cubes in bags and pop them into soups, or thaw them first. Or you can chop the herbs and freeze them on a baking sheet. Place the frozen herbs in containers and use as you would fresh herbs. I really like to make herb paste. Mix 2 cups of fresh herbs with 1/3 cup of olive oil in a blender until smooth. Freeze in ice cube trays.

The following recipes have a different twist on using fresh herbs:

Cilantro salad

2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, quinoa, barley or grain of your choice

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup apples, diced

1/2 cup carrots, diced

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen corn

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or more to taste



Dressing ingredients

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I omit these in the dressing to make it more kid-friendly)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing in a smaller bowl and drizzle over the salad. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts for a hearty main dish salad.



White beans with rosemary

1 pound white beans, any type you like

3 large onions, peeled

6 whole cloves

3 garlic cloves, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped

Preparing the beans: Pick the beans and remove any pebbles, broken beans and visible dirt. Rinse well under running water and place it in a large bowl. Top it with water by 2 inches and let it soak overnight (6 to 8 hours).

Cooking the beans: Press the cloves into one of the onions until they stick; chop the remaining two onions. Place the beans with water enough to cover them (you can use the same soaking water as long as the beans were well-rinsed in advance), add all the onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste (I usually start with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and increase it if necessary). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

If you like a thicker sauce, mash one ladle of beans with a fork. Return it to the pot and cook it for a while longer until desired consistency is achieved. I got this recipe from pinkbites.com.



Have questions? Email them to amandastone31@hotmail.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.