5 New Uses for Herbs
#1: MUDDLE IN DRINKS
Lightly crush herbs to release their essential oils, amping up the taste and smell. You've tried this in mint mojitos; how about in basil lemonade or tarragon iced tea?
How to Do It: Add herb leaves to an empty cocktail glass with a pinch of sugar (the granules help break down the leaves), then press them firmly against the bottom using a muddler or wooden spoon.
#2: SUBMERGE IN SALT
Flavor meats and sides without worrying about herbs scorching in the oven or pan. Place perfumey rosemary, thyme or lavender in your salt shaker. Use on potatoes (rosemary), corn (thyme) or roasted chicken (lavender).
How to Do It: Add sprigs to coarse salt and let sit for 1 to 2 days; discard the sprigs. Store salt in a salt mill or shaker.
#3: SWEETEN FOR DESSERT
Simple scoops of ice cream or frosted cupcakes become edgy gourmet treats when you add a contrasting, slightly spicy hint of herb. Dredge mint, basil or lemon verbena leaves in sugar before using them as a garnish.
How to Do It: Stem, wash and dry the leaves. Brush lightly with egg white, then coat in sugar. Dry on a rack for 12 hours (or up to 1 day).
Tip!: Use as much sugar as you like. Get rid of excess by rubbing the leaves between your fingers.
#4: DEEP-FRY FOR GARNISHING
A dip in batter and a hot oil bath give leafy herbs such as parsley, cilantro and tarragon crispiness, intense flavor and a gorgeous, deep green color. Use to garnish a main dish or a bowl of creamy soup.
How to Do It: Wash and thoroughly dry herb stalks. In a skillet, preheat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 350°. Coat herbs in a batter of 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking soda and 1 cup room-temperature seltzer. Fry until the batter is golden-brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute; drain on paper towels.
#5: USE TO INFUSE
Want fresh herb taste -- but a leaf-free plate? Make an infusion: Submerge thyme or rosemary in oil or vinegar to use in savory dishes, or in honey for sweets and teas.
How to Do It: Add 1 stalk of rosemary or a few stalks of sparser herbs like thyme to your base of choice; let infuse for 1 week. Pick out and discard the herbs, or replace them with fresh stalks and repeat for a stronger infusion.