We’ve all been there. You buy herbs for a recipe, use a sprig or two, and then stash the package in the crisper drawer… where you proceed to forget about it. It’s a triple bummer: a waste of food, money, and flavor.
To keep them fresh in the first place, Frank Proto, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, suggests wrapping just-purchased herbs in a damp paper towel and refrigerating them in a zip-top bag. Wash tender herbs right before using, and don’t bother rinsing their sturdy cousins unless they’re visibly dirty. If you want to get a head start on cleaning tender herbs, wash them, dry very well (this is key!), and then follow the damp-paper-towel, zip-top-bag method.
If you have a leftover bunch of herbs that aren't quite ready for the compost jar, here are some genius ways to make sure you use every last bit.
Tender herbs: parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, dill, tarragon, chives
• Chop and whisk a few teaspoons into eggs before scrambling.
• Add whole leaves to a green salad.
• Finely chop and stir into plain Greek yogurt with lemon zest and salt to make a dip.
• Make a simple syrup for cocktails. Boil equal parts sugar and water. Remove from heat, add the herb, and cool. Remove the herb and refrigerate.
• Using a food processor, blitz herbs (try a combo) into pesto with olive oil, nuts, garlic, and salt.
• Add to a smoothie.
• Chop and work into soft- ened butter. Shape into a log, refrigerate or freeze, and cut off slices to melt on steak, fish, or veggies.
Sturdy herbs: thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano
• Toss whole sprigs with vegetables and olive oil before roasting.
• Finely chop and sauté with onions and garlic when starting a sauce or soup.
• Make infused oil by adding whole sprigs to a jar of olive oil. Store in the fridge for a few days, and bring to room temp before using in salad dressings.
• Finely chop, combine with salt and pepper, and pat on chicken before roasting.
• Simmer whole sprigs in soups or sauces. Remove before serving.
• Infuse vodka by placing a couple of sprigs in a bottle of vodka with some lemon peel; refrigerate.
• Fry a sprig or two in olive oil for a pretty garnish.
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