The flavorful art of cooking with fresh herbs

This article was originally published in July 2004


(July 2004) — With their bold, distinctive flavors, fresh herbs are the perfect ingredients to perk up any dish. They’re also easy to grow in small spaces, so they can be readily available for cooking any time you need them.

PCC recently partnered with Seattle Tilth for a workshop designed to introduce city folks to the joys of growing their own food. This “Urban Herbs” workshop demonstrated basic techniques for planting and growing fresh herbs in small planters and pots.

Next month, local chef and nutritional therapist Birgitte Antonsen will present ideas for harvesting and cooking with fresh herbs during a special PCC FoodWorks cooking class. Birgitte says the class will focus on fresh ingredients and regional flavors.

“When I develop a new recipe or component to a dish,” says Birgitte, “I start by thinking of a country or region — for example, the Mediterranean. I look up all the unique flavors, herbs, spices, vegetables and oils, and then I start creating.”

Below, Birgitte shares two flavorful recipes using fresh herbs.

Hazelnut, sundried tomato and fresh herb paté

This recipe was inspired from a dish Birgette created for Seattle’s Café Ambrosia. It was originally developed as a pistou — a classic French variation on Italian pesto — to garnish a thick, creamy Mediterranean potage.

Makes about 2 cups

8 ounces toasted hazelnuts
2 ounces sundried tomatoes
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 250°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool. Remove loose skin from the nuts. Soak the sundried tomatoes in 1 cup of hot water for about an hour. Strain and chop the tomatoes. Reserve the soaking water.

In a food processor, combine sundried tomatoes, herbs, garlic, olive oil and half of the reserved soaking water. Pulse in food processor until blended. Then, add hazelnuts and pulse until nuts are roughly ground.

Mushroom broth with fresh herb pesto

This recipe was created for a recent PCC FoodWorks class, which explored natural ways to detoxify the body.

Serves 4-6

8 cups filtered water
3 strips wakame, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, then chopped
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, with stems removed and sliced
4 to 6 tablespoons white miso, dissolved in 1 cup warm mushroom broth
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 carrots, julienned
1 to 2 cups cabbage, shredded
1/4 to 1/2 cup green onions, sliced

Bring water to a boil with the wakame and shiitake mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add miso and fresh ginger.

Place vegetables in individual soup bowls and pour broth over the vegetables. Top with fresh herb pesto.

Fresh herb pesto

1 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked in water
for 7 to 8 hours
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons white miso
4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 ounces mixed fresh herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro and mint)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined.

— Recipes by Birgitte Antonsen

Birgitte Antonsen is a PCC FoodWorks instructor, nutritional therapist, personal chef, caterer and owner of Nature’s Way Food. She also works in our Greenlake deli and specializes in whole-food, nutrient-dense cooking.

Also in this issue