Simon and Garfunkel would feel right at home in my herb garden.
I have it all: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Can you see them in this photo?
I have lemon thyme and lemongrass, Thai basil and purple basil, chives and garlic chives too, but for some reason, I've never been able to grow dill.
Fresh herbs are an important part of The Perfect Pantry, even though they are only available from the garden for five months of the year. Of the four herbs of song, parsley will be first to go, as night temperatures begin their descent into winter. (Most of the tender basil has bid farewell for the year, though there is a fresh batch of pesto in the freezer.) It's a shame, too, because this year my parsley field produced the most glorious plants, rich in color and flavor, and, for the first time, I began to use my flat-leaf parsley not only as a garnish, but also as a valued ingredient in my cooking.
Fundamental to most cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean area, parsley comes in two main varieties: curly, which we all know from its rampant overuse as a garnish; and flat-leaf, also called Italian or French parsley, which has the best flavor.
Rich in Vitamins A and C, and iron, parsley is a biennial herb related to celery; in fact, the word "parsley" derives from a Greek word meaning "rock celery." Native to the eastern Mediterranean region, it's cultivated in many parts of the world. Parsley is essential to several basic sauces and garnishes, including chimichurri, gremolata, salsa verde, chermoula and persillade -- and, of course, to tabbouleh.
To store parsley, wash it and dry almost completely. Wrap the damp parsley in a paper towel, and put the bundle inside a ziploc bag. Stored that way, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Parsley is one of those herbs I used to take for granted, but this year, when the last of the parsley succumbs to a hard frost, I will miss it.
This all-purpose yogurt sauce, adapted from a recipe our friend Greg taught to our cooking group, is the perfect accompaniment to grilled lamb, chicken or salmon. It's the last hurrah for my herb garden, and a big hurrah for the two-year anniversary of one of the blog world's most enduring and endearing features, Weekend Herb Blogging, the brainchild of Kalyn's Kitchen. As the dill in my garden bolted ages ago, parsley, along with cucumbers, are the star of this show, with a bit of store-bought dill. Makes 2-1/2 cups.
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 small seedless (English) cucumber, unpeeled, or 1 regular cucumber, seeded
1 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1 tsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp minced fresh dill (or use more parsley, if there's no dill in your garden)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Do ahead: Place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined sieve and set it over a bowl. Grate the cucumber and toss with 1/2 teaspoon of salt; place in another sieve and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain.
Transfer thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can, and add to the yogurt. Mix in remaining ingredients, and adjust seasonings to taste.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Frittata with broccoli and garden herbs
Vegetable paella with spicy garlic sauce
Tyropita (cheese-filled phyllo triangles)
French potato salad with basic vinaigrette
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