Are you snapping up those gorgeous fresh herbs appearing in farmer's markets? Herbs are exceptionally powerful for both health and flavor, so go right ahead! But you won't want to let any go to waste. Here's a useful guide from the archives to help you enjoy every smidge. :)
You buy a bunch of parsley so you can chop a tablespoon-full for a favorite recipe. Rather than let the rest of the bunch wither in the fridge... what can you do with it?
First I want you to know what you would be tossing away.
Bunches of fresh herbs literally, nibble for nibble, gram for gram, offer more cancer-fighting, brain-boosting and longevity-promoting properties than any other foods because the concentration of phytochemicals is so great!
3 stars in the herbal firmament:
- Cilantro: Digestion aid, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, anticancer.
Helps with liver health. Inhibits the growth of E. coli and has been shown to knock out salmonella in the lab. Lowers risk of colon cancer, and can calm nausea during chemo. Has been shown to help with anxiety.
- Mint: Anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, digestion aid. In the lab has been shown to stall growth of liver, mammary and pancreatic tumors. Loaded with vitamin C and beta-carotene, which lower colorectal cancer risk. Inhibits the formation of coronary plaques, soothes the tummy and freshens the breath. Nice!
- Parsley: Anticancer, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular health. Animal studies show parsley’s volatile oils can limit development of lung cancer and help repair the lining of the stomach. Acts as a digestive aid and stimulates appetite.
But really, I’m going to make a GREAT case for taking those herbs that might otherwise go to waste — and turn them into dollops of yum!
What’s a dollop of yum?
I’m actually quite famous for my dollops of yum, which are delicious toppings you can quickly wazz up in your blender or mini-food processor, drape them beguilingly on lunch or dinner, and turn an everyday dish into a triumph!
My friend Stefanie Sacks of Reboot Food™ calls my dollops “edible make-up,” which I love! I call dollops the bling of the food set, the pin you put on the little black dress.
My Everything Drizzle (recipe below) made it onto the menu of my beloved culinary chum Marti Wolfson’s wedding 2 years ago! A total honor. These women are two of the top culinary nutritionists and chef/educators in the country, and praise from them is praise INDEED!
To create these tasty dollops, you simply take all your leftover herbs — for me, usually copious amounts of cilantro, mint and parsley — put them in my mini-food processor with a couple glugs of olive oil plus the juice of a half a lemon or more and some sea salt. Wazz it up until creamy and smooth. Sometimes I add a teaspoon of water to get it to the consistency I want. That’s it! And you have a sauce that tastes like haute cuisine.
My friend healthy culinary coach Sandy Kleiman and I make My Everything Drizzle in this video:
Smother it on everything. Herbs add a bright, high note, almost like a flute or a piccolo. The bright flavors make something like a piece of salmon sing or chicken jump to attention! Brush dollops onto grilled vegetables and you will SWOON. I fold them into a bean, lentil or potato salad. These herbaceous wonders hold in the fridge for 10 days. OR you can use half and freeze half, so you always have some on hand.
If you want to improvise, and you have a half an avocado in your fridge, or roasted red pepper, or garlic, or a taste for a specific spice… go for it! Toss it in. Herbs play well with anybody on the culinary playground :)
And did you know that your dollops definitely count as part of your quota for eating green?
My favorites, that I use ALL the time:
My Everything Drizzle
This is the dollop that’s always front and center in my refrigerator. The combination of fresh parsley and mint, blended with lemon, olive oil, and sea salt is a perfect drizzle to amp up the yum for chicken, lamb, fish, or vegetables. I’ve been known to scrape the jar, just to capture the last few drops. Parsley gets a brain boost from the phytochemical quercetin, which helps protect brain cells from free radical damage, while mint helps with focus and concentration.
Chimichurri is to South America as salsa verde is to Italy. Or maybe it’s simpler to call it Argentinian barbecue sauce. My version combines parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, lemon juice, and the kicker, mint. The scent of mint has been shown to increase alertness, and the taste is perfect for waking up chicken and other meats. As the Argentines might say, this is a chimichurri that adds destello (sparkle) to a dish.
Signoria Francini's Salsa Verde
This dollop can of course be used variously, but is shown here in an Italian White Bean Salad, my version of the type of light and lovely antipasti I so often found delight in as I traveled across Italy. This salad has a creamy/crunchy thing going on that I think you will enjoy as hot weather comes our way.