Different Ways to Use Fresh Summer Herbs

You may have taken the time to grow enough fresh produce in your garden for a weeks’ worth of salads and veggie side dishes, but what should you do with all of those extra herbs? While it may seem tough to eat as much greenery as you’re growing, there are tons of ways to use your garden’s abundance. Grab your parsley, dill, rosemary, thyme, or cilantro to pump up the flavor of any summer meal in a flash — here are seven different ways to use your favorite herbs.

1. Salsa verde

Salsa verde in a jar

Salsa verde in a jar | iStock.com

If you’ve got quite a bundle of herbs that you’re looking to finish all at once, making your own delicious green summer sauce is the perfect way to use as many herbs as you have available. Epicurious recommends chopping your flat-leaf parsley, mint, and cilantro together. From here, you can combine the herbs with a combination of other flavor enhancers, which can include garlic, lemon zest or juice, and capers — if you’re into spice, you can add some jalapeño as well. Top it off with oil to keep the herbs fresh and green.

2. Infused olive oil

Olive oil with herbs and olives

Olive oil with herbs and olives | iStock.com

We’re betting you use olive oil once or twice a day as is,  and herbs are the perfect to add even more flavor. The Tasteful Garden explains how to easily transform your everyday olive oil into a real treat using herbs like fresh oregano, basil, and thyme. Start with 2 cups of olive oil warming over a stovetop, and while the oil is warming, place your sprigs of fresh herbs along with other spices like black peppercorns or red pepper flakes into a jar. Pour your oil into the jar of herbs, cover the mixture, and allow it to sit and infuse for 2 weeks. After time has passed and your oil is ready to use, remove your herbs and strain the oil to remove loose spices or bits of herbs. Also, always refrigerate your herb-infused oils.

3. Infused simple syrup

fresh herbs

Fresh sage | iStock.com

For something a bit different, try making your own herb-infused simple syrup to add to cocktails or unsweetened iced tea. Simple syrup is as simple as it sounds, and Bon Appétit explains how to make delicious variations with mint or rosemary, but you can use whatever herbs you’d like.

This syrup is made using equal parts water and sugar, which is brought to a boil along with your herb of choice, stirred, then removed from the heat to cool. Once your syrup is off the heat, you’ll strain out the herbs themselves.

4. Compound butter

Big block of butter before being compounded with herbs

Butter before adding the herbs | iStock.com

Make your morning toast or your late-night dinners that much more interesting using compound butter, which has extra flavor from herbs and other add-ins. For a savory version, try using thyme, rosemary, sage, chives, or a combination. The New York Times explains how easy compound butter is to make. Just start with 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, a tablespoon (or more) of your choice of herbs, and other flavorings such as lemon zest, shallot, or olive oil as you see fit. Using a chef’s knife, scrape the butter together, roll it into a log, and refrigerate.

5. Pesto

bowl filled with basil pesto next to cheese, nuts, and garlic

Basil pesto | iStock.com

While pesto may traditionally be made with basil, you can use whatever is abundant at your house. Martha Stewart’s recipe for a leftover herb pesto is unique and delicious — you may never go back to basil pesto again. Instead of just basil, you’ll use a mix of tender herb s, such as mint, tarragon, cilantro, and parsley. Process your herbs with the rest of your ingredients and enjoy this herby pesto over pasta, chicken, or as a spread for a sandwich.

6. Salad dressing

close-up of salad dressing with veggies in the background

Container of salad dressing | iStock.com

One of the most versatile and simple ways to use your herbs is to make a salad dressing. There’s no right way to go about making the perfect herb salad dressing either, so the sky is the limit when it comes to your choice of ingredients. Food Network has a recipe for a herb vinaigrette that’s perfect on a fresh summer salad. This recipe uses white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon zest for acidity as well as fresh garlic, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. For the herbs, they recommend any variation of chopped fresh herbs like parsley, basil, marjoram, or thyme to flavor your vinaigrette exactly the way you want.

7. Smoothie

healthy green juice

Healthy green smoothie | iStock.com

If you think only your savory dishes deserve fresh herbs, then think again. Herbs are the perfect addition to any smoothie recipe, adding a hint of fresh flavor that you may be missing. We particularly like these simple recipes from Organic Authority. One of their favorites is ginger, apple, lemon, and parsley for a smoothie that’s tangy, cleansing, and refreshing. Raspberries also go great with rosemary, so try a simple smoothie using these two ingredients along with yogurt to reach the best consistency.

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