Monday, August 3, 2009

Fresh basil and parsley ... all summer long!

I love having fresh herbs to add to my cooking and always have pots of my favorites growing by the kitchen door. I really can't get along without parsley and basil. They add color and wonderful flavor. Plus, they're easy to grow in the ground or in containers. All you need to do is provide rich soil and plenty of sunshine and water!

Basil is an easy to grow tender annual. The hardest thing about growing basil is choosing which varieties to grow. Give basil some sun and good soil and you can pick leaves daily all summer long. And picking the leaves is what will keep your basil producing for the whole season. Pick fresh, young basil leaves whenever you need them and remove flowers as soon as buds appear. The more often you harvest, the more the plant will grow! Storing basil in the refrigerator can cause the leaves to turn an unappetizing black color. Instead, keep basil fresh for several days by placing the stems in a jar filled with water and setting the jar on your kitchen counter out of direct sunlight.

Parsley is a leafy herb that adds freshness to dishes. It’s extremely easy to grow and keep on hand and an attractive plant in the garden. It adds wonderful color to any dish. Albert Stockli said, "Parsley is the jewel of herbs, both in the pot and on the plate." Parsley is the world's most popular herb. It derives its name from the Greek word meaning "rock celery" (parsley is a relative to celery). It is a biennial plant that will return to the garden year after year once it is established. While parsley is a wonderfully nutritious and healing food, it is often under-appreciated. Most people do not realize that this vegetable has more uses than just being a decorative garnish that accompanies restaurant meals. They do not know that parsley is actually a storehouse of nutrients and that it features a delicious green and vibrant taste. The two most popular types of parsley are curly parsley and Italian flat leaf parsley. The Italian variety has a more fragrant taste than the curly variety.

This is a chopped salad with lots of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and peppers. Fresh parsley, basil and garlic are folded in and just a hint of vinegar is splashed on to give it some bite. Chill and the flavors pop out. Six generous servings.
5 tomatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
You can also add a drizzle of olive oil & some crumbled feta cheese.
1.In a large bowl, combine the tomato, onion, cucumber, bell pepper, basil, parsley, garlic and vinegar. Toss and add salt and pepper to taste. Chill and serve.

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