Last week I blogged about an unexpected find in our garden: gigantic cilantro and parsley plants that had overwintered and needed to be harvested before we could condition the soil for spring planting. I put the bunches of herbs in vases of water on my kitchen table, and they inspired my cooking all week, leading me to make herb-infused marinades and vinaigrettes, as well as to sprinkle fresh herbs on pretty much everything I cooked. Still, there was way too much to eat before the herbs began to wilt.
Pesto is a terrific method for preserving herbs, but pesto has a lot of other flavors in addition to the herb: garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts. Sometimes you want something a little simpler and more versatile. I used a simple herb puree to process my extra cilantro and parsley. Like pesto, it freezes well. I freeze the puree in ice cube trays, then move the cubes to freezer bags. Whenever I want a little extra flavor, I take one or two cubes out of the freezer and let them defrost on the counter. They’re then ready for adding extra zing to whatever I’m cooking.
Here’s how to make the herb puree:
- Remove the leaves from the stems to measure about 2 cups. This is the worst part of processing herbs. I find it so tedious to strip all the leaves off. Often I get impatient and make less puree than I can, but this method is easily doubled or tripled.
- In a food processor puree the leaves with about ¼ cup of olive oil, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.
- If you need to add a bit more liquid, drizzle in warm water, a little at a time, while the food processor is running until the desired consistency is reached.
- Spoon the puree into ice cube trays and freeze.
Now I have plenty of cilantro and parsley stocked for when I need it.