I have mentioned before how bad I am at gardening, and believe me, nothing has changed. The peppers I planted two months ago did well until two weeks ago when the leaves were eaten by an unidentified organism, and the two-inch peppers dropped to the ground. The carrots did well until they simply disappeared, and the basil again has turned to leafless stems. The shining light at the end of the garden tunnel is that the rest of the herbs are growing like the weeds they really are. My chives, oregano, thyme, sage, cilantro, lavender and parsley are all growing faster than we can eat them. The heat and daily rain have turned a slow growth garden into a turbocharged hot house.
I took a cue from the tubes of herb paste sold in the grocery store and decided to make my own. The grocery store brands are full of unnecessary ingredients like sugar and preservatives, and I wanted to keep nothing but the fresh taste of herbs in my version. As with most of my attempts at preserving, I turned to the freezer for my version. Most of my pastes are now safely in my freezer to store for winter.
The pastes are so easy to make, I’m ashamed that I haven’t made them in previous years. They work best as a way of preserving tender fresh herbs like chives, parsley and cilantro that do not keep their flavor well when dried.
To make them you simply use the ratio of one cup of lightly packed herb leaves to one tablespoon of olive oil. A few seconds in a food-processor turns the herbs into an even paste which can be transferred to jars to keep for a few weeks in the fridge. For longer storage, you’ll need to use the freezer. The herbs can be portioned out into ice cube trays (in one tablespoon increments) and then frozen or even just spread in a thin layer onto a tray and frozen so they can be broken off and used as needed. When freezing in a thin layer, I recommend scoring the herb paste with a pizza cutter or knife before freezing to make it easier to break once frozen.
The chive paste is my favorite. Not only is it great to throw in sauces and salad dressings, but it makes a fantastic garnish for pastas or mixed with ricotta for bruschetta. The oregano paste is extremely strong, but the perfect addition to seafood dishes, pasta and pizza sauces. The parsley paste has a great color and works well in anything that calls for parsley (except as a garnish).