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Herbs from the garden freshen summer fare

For a summer refresher, steep fresh lavender flowers to mix with lemonade or iced tea. © Natalie Houlding/iStockphoto

The herbs are coming on and for many of us, we wonder what to do with them. Here are a few suggestions that you may not have thought of for summer fare.

A few months back, I read an article about using sage in Italian food, so I tried it. I made whole wheat pasta with browned butter and added sage (Salvia officinalis), best known as the Thanksgiving herb.

The fresh, chiffonade sage added a surprising brightness to the dish. For for a two-person serving, I added six large leaves. Next time I’ll add eight. I placed the slivers of sage in the butter to flavor it as it browned. Sage also can be added at the tail end when making (or heating up) tomato sauces to enliven those dish, too. Or mix fresh sage in a pasta salad.

Basil, best known as the main ingredient in pesto, has a lot of other uses in the kitchen. My favorite is fresh basil (Ocimum basilicum) placed on cheese pizza, even the frozen kind, for a bright flavor. It’s even better when you make your own, such as pizza marguerite. This easy-to-do summer pizza is made with mozzarella, freshly sliced tomatoes, and basil. Fresh basil adds a bright taste to a BLT, too.

One the sweet side of the herb aisle is lavender (Lavandula), which can be used in ice tea, lemonade, fruit salad, shortbread cookies and ice cream, to name a few dishes.

For ice tea or lemonade, steep about ¼ cup of fresh lavender flowers in a cup of hot water, strain and mix in your tea or lemonade.

Always make sure the lavender and other herbs you use in cooking have not been treated with chemicals. If you don’t grow herbs, you can always get fresh ones at area farmers markets.

 

 

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