Summer Herbs: Patio To Plate

It's Summer and I am grateful. Happy that I am no longer held hostage for 2 hours a day, doing school runs, content to be closer to home, and with a dinner time that is less frenzied. 

 By planting herbs, even gathering them in pots, you can create a sensory garden experience that your family can savor through the summer.

If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe's nearby, you can score some awesome quality potted basil, and mixed herbs at great prices that will last you through the summer. It's as easy as plopping it into a patio pot with some potting soil, generous room for growth and watering well. Pots are the perfect size to have little ones assist with their watering cans. Fresh herbs should be cut often, and just the process of cutting provides an incredible sensory experience.

Before my oldest girl would ever eat basil,  or understood that the Oregano is what makes our pizza sauce sing, I would take her out to the patio and show her how to cut each herb. A few years later and she is finally asking for fresh basil on her pasta! Good things come to those who wait. 

Cut your herbs often, freezing with splashes of olive oil in ice cube trays. If you want to be decadent, layer cut herbs with thin pieces of butter and freeze those too. Mint is great frozen with lemon and water for summer tea or lemonade. 

The best kept secret about growing herbs is this pesto is a busy Mom's best friend- you can make it easily using your main herb interchangeably based on what you have an abundance of. Pesto is easily frozen in small portions and can be dished out for cold pasta salads, a drizzle for grilled veggies or chicken or as an appetizer for grilled bread. Pesto is also perfect for a quick lunch spreading pesto onto bread before adding your cheese or veggies, and a great foundation for a gourmet pasta dinner.

Perfect Pesto:

Pick your herb, your favorite cheese and nut of choice, add a little salt, garlic and olive oil.

 

Gather Your Ingredients: 

- 6 cups of fresh herbs. Have your family help gather and gently rinse your fresh herbs. Choose from parsley, basil, spinach or arugula, you can mix and match according to taste. 

- 1/2 cup of freshly grated cheese. Try Pecorino, Asiago, Parmesan or even a dry Monterey Jack or smoked white cheddar. You can mix and match here too according to taste. 

-1/2 cup of nuts. Try pistachios, pine nuts, almonds, even walnuts. Experiment!

-2 peeled garlic cloves, smashed! 

-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

-1/4-1/2 tsp of salt depending on your taste

 

Combine all ingredients into your food processor, pulsing and blending until smooth or to the texture you prefer. You can keep in the fridge up to one week. If you know you will be freezing individual servings, do not add the cheese. Wait instead until each serving is defrosted and add a handful then. 

Enjoy! Savor the simple things this summer

 

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