Cooking with Fresh Herbs

Herbs in raised bedLate yesterday afternoon, I asked Jim to come outside with me to see what vegetables were ready to be harvested. Our garden is in raised beds and assorted barrels clustered around the greenhouse and easily accessible to me. Jim found two zucchini, an eggplant, a yellow bell pepper and a double handfull of cherry tomatoes.

Bringing them all inside I began to prepare them. I left the tomatoes whole and just dropped them into a large mixing bowl. I cut the other vegetables into smallish bite sized pieces and added them to the bowl. I poured a dollop of olive oil in the bowl along with a pinch of salt.

Grabbing my clippers I returned to the raised bed behind the greenhouse and cut a long stalk of both oregano and rosemary. Finally I cut a tangled clump of thyme and returned to the kitchen, placing all of the herbs on the chopping block.

Selecting a lethal looking butcher knife, I pulled it and the whetstone from the knife block. The whetstone is simply a long tapered rod which lives in the square hole of the knife block. I swiped the knife along the whetstone three or four times on each side of the blade. Laying the knife aside for the moment I picked up the long stalk of oregano. I stripped the slightly fuzzy leaves from the stalk and collected them in a pile in the middle of the chopping block. The rosemary was next. After stripping the pungent slightly sticky leaves from the stalk I added them to the pile. Washing the oil from the rosemary off of my fingers I dealt with the thyme. Untangling each stalk from the handfull I gently stripped the tiny leaves and added them to the pile.

I was ready to begin chopping the herbs. My butcher knife is almost twelve inches long. The blade is two and a half or three inches wide at its base. Holding the handle of the knife in my right hand I placed my left hand on the top of the knife tip and began chopping. I rapidly chopped the herbs, moving my right hand in a semicircle around my stationary left hand. Jim came in the kitchen at that moment and seemed quite worried for the safety of my fingers. A butcher knife is a formidable looking thing but perfectly safe when used correctly.

In about thirty seconds the deed was done. Piling the herbs onto the broad blade of the knife I tipped them into the bowl with the vegies. Making sure the herbs, oil, and salt, were evenly distributed I spread the vegetables on a cookie sheet and popped it in the oven. Three minutes later the vegetables were done and ready to be served over fragrent steamed Basmati rice.

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3 Responses to Cooking with Fresh Herbs

  1. smartin June 24, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    with all fingers still intact!

  2. Sarah July 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    I didn’t know herbs could be cut that way. Rather like dicing walnuts for baking. That meal sounds delicious!

    • smartin July 17, 2012 at 4:57 am #

      Exactly like dicing walnuts. It’s a wonderful meal, elegant in its simplicity.

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