Making the most out of your summer herbs
I love a summer meal with juicy red tomatoes, and fresh basil!
I have never had much desire to get dirt under my fingernails so when Mark gave me an AeroGarden, I fell in love with growing my own herbs. It was easy to setup, easy to maintain and what fun to watch different herbs grow in the house! I don't get sweaty, the bugs don't bite my ankles, and my nails stay clean. So I call that a win, win for me!
I have been using my AeroGarden all year-round for the past three years. Last year, I decided to freeze my herbs so I would have extra during the holidays. I have some great recipes using basil that I will be sharing over the next three food blogs so I hope you will download the PDFs at the bottom of each recipe and let me know how you like it!
Appsolutelyyoucan freeze herbs quickly and easily!
When my kids were little I used to freeze strawberry jam. If you freeze, or can fruit and vegetables you know it takes time. I have a full life and not a ton of free time so I'm always looking for the easiest steps for certain things such as freezing herbs. When growing basil I discovered that it is very plentiful...I gave it to family members and still had plenty so I decided to freeze it. It is really easy especially if you have a food processor!
I freeze my basil with olive oil so I can make pesto or use it in a recipe.
It is quick and easy. All you need is a food processor or chop your basil with a knife, 1/4 c. olive oil for 4 cups of basil leaves. Put the blade in the food processor and then add the leaves. As the blade cuts the basil drizzle the olive oil onto the basil leaves. This will create a paste that you can spoon into silicone cube trays that have covers so you can freeze your herbs and simply pop out the amount you need when cooking in the winter.
Freezing thyme and rosemary is even easier! Take the thyme or rosemary on the stems and put them on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for several hours. Next transfer the sprigs to freezer bags for later use. This makes it much easier to remove one or two sprigs at a time.
Tip 1: Never chop herbs until they're washed and totally dry...you will have a mess on your board!
Tip 2: To easily strip rosemary and thyme from the leaves from their stems, simply hold a single sprig at the top, pinch the stem with two fingers, and quickly run your fingers down the stem to remove all the leaves.
Tomato Basil Soup Recipe
Basil and tomatoes are front and center for this healthy yet delicious summertime soup recipe. I love this recipe because it is easy to prepare and delicious hot or cold. In the wintertime when tomatoes aren't as tasty, I use Muir Glen canned organic tomatoes. Its great with a grilled cheese sandwich or simply toasted Crostini (sliced white French bread baguettes drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven).
4 cups chopped seeded peeled tomato (about 4 large)
4 cups low-sodium tomato juice
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
(I often add a tablespoon of brown sugar to cut the acidity)
Basil leaves, thinly sliced (optional)
8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette
Bring tomatoes and juice to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, 30 minutes.
Place tomato mixture and basil in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.
Return pureed mixture to the pan; stir in milk, salt, and pepper.
Add cream cheese cut into chunks, stir well with a whisk, and cook over medium heat until thick (about 5 minutes).
Ladle soup into individual bowls; garnish with sliced basil, if desired. Serve with bread.
NOTE: Refrigerate remaining soup in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Nutritional Information (without the added brown sugar)
Amount per serving
Calories 133 Caloriesfromfat 30 % Fat 4.4 g Satfat 2.4 g Monofat 1.3 g Polyfat 0.4 g Protein 5.4 g Carbohydrate 18.7 g Fiber 1.9 g Cholesterol 12 mg Iron 1.5 mg Sodium 310 mg Calcium 77 mg
Next week I will post a recipe for a delicious Three Cheese Crostini appetizer