Before summer ends, we wanted to give attention to four of our favorite summer herbs. The refreshing foods of summer would simply not be the same without fresh herbs. They brighten up any dish, from savory to sweet, and even our summer sips can benefit from the addition of herbs. Serendipity has a few ideas using three of summers best herbs, no matter how you choose to use them.
Basil is arguably the most used summer herb, with many thanks to the summer favorite Caprese salad. With a clove-like flavor profile, basil lends a bright flavor to both savory and sweet dishes. Think beyond tomato sauces and pesto using basil. Basil is a citrusy aromatic addition to dishes like, pork chops, Moroccan dishes, grilled eggplant, peach or cantaloupe salads. Basil can even enhance summer sweets like, grilled pound cake, basil gelato, strawberry basil shortcakes, and watermelon sorbet. Don’t forget to drink your herbs- basil holds up in well in gin, vodka, and even white tequila cocktails.
Quick tip: If you run out of basil from your garden, substitute parsley. Parsley has slightly grassy flavor, but the lemony flavor is comparable to basil when in a pinch.
Tarragon is a lesser-known herb that we think, deserves a little more attention. Aside from the famous Béarnaise, tarragon can be used in a variety of ways. Tarragon has an assertive licorice flavor ideal for any summer dish. Tarragon pairs well with light meats and is most commonly used in preparing seafood. The herb is also an unusual addition to salad dressings, and berry or peach salads. Tarragon is not often used for desserts, but with its natural licorice flavor, it easily should be! Try tarragon in peach shortcake, strawberry fools (a dessert of sweetened fruit folded into stiffly peaked whipped cream), or an almond tarragon cake.
Tip: Heat intensifies tarragon, both fresh and dried. When tarragon is dried, the oils dissipate. Therefore, fresh tarragon has a much more intense flavor than dried, and should be used sparingly.
Lavender is more familiar as a relaxing herb used to scent pillows, soap, and candles however lavender is an unexpected herb to use when cooking too! Lavender makes summer dining a touch more unexpected and elegant.
Use lavender, in roasted potatoes or to season grilled summer veggies, add a touch to grilled lamb, or include lavender to seafood dishes, or even seafood chowder. Lavender and lemon go together as well as peas and, well, you know… Lavender lemon bars, lavender lemon pound cake, lavender and lemon shortbread, and lavender lemonade are just a few of the beloved classy combinations. A Lavender Whiskey sour or Lavendou is a relaxing way un-wind after a long summer day.
Tip: No matter what you plan to do with it, make sure to buy “culinary lavender.” Lavender is produced for uses other than cooking so make sure you buy the type appropriate for cooking so your food doesn’t taste like soap. We recommend using lavender as an infusion, so either grind it (best for baked goods) or strain it out of a liquid before using. You’ll still get great lavender flavor without the flowery feel.
Because of the brightly scented notes in Lemon Verbena, it was originally used as a perfume. This herb is, well, lemony so eventually it made its way onto our plates. The bright citrus and slightly
fruity and floral flavor lends itself well to seafood, fresh summer salads, teas, berries, macaroons, and summer desserts. We love Lemon Verbena in cakes and shortbread. Add Lemon Verbena to easy cocktails, like a gimlet for a bright finish, or more complex sips like this Frezier Affair, which combines the herb with strawberries for a sweet and tart summer cocktail.
Tip: Fill a jar with lemon verbena leaves, fill it with water, and sit it in the sun to brew a refreshing tea for an easy summer herbal tea. Transform cookies or cakes into lemony treats by mixing bruised lemon verbena leaves into sugar the night before baking. Pull out leaves prior to mixing recipe.
Final Tip: Summer herbs will instantly elevate any summer dish, so use liberally!