gardening · homemaking · recipes

Herbaceous

A freshly gathered bunch of herbs exudes every bit as much beauty as a posy of its floral relatives.

Aside from their culinary use, herbal cuttings serve as sturdy backdrops for floral arrangements – and providing the water is replenished, do so with incredible staying power. Their robust nature and depth of colour gives the floral heads prominance and easy positioning. Simple flowers such as nasturtiums, lavender and daisies are offset beautifully by rosemary and parsley. Dahlias and mint are another prime example:

A collection of cuttings in the kitchen is refreshing to the eye and can be snipped at as recipes across the week call for sprigs, bunches and garnishes. Case in point, this week we were the fortunate recipients of a lovely fresh snapper, reeled in by a fishing acquaintance. After scoring the skin, we massaged the catch with olive oil and sea salt. The final rub down was a herbal concoction made in the pestle and mortar – oregano and thyme with a splash of olive oil to bind.

The fragrantly coated fish was then securely wrapped in foil and baked in a 180 degrees celsius oven for 45 minutes. The result, a lovely succulent fish served with a feta and olive salad. This is not a difficult exercise and if you have a good local fishmonger, you can have a nice fish feast on your table requiring little more that 10 minutes preparation plus cooking time (make the salad while it bakes).

Postscript: There is a combination of five different herbs pictured above – can you identify them all? Clue – see tags…

recipes

Pomodoro

Characteristics of a good friend: reliable, flexible, of substance, mood elevating. Homemade tomato sauce is therefore an exceptional ally.

What’s more, it is extremely reassuring to know you have this chum in the freezer, as within a short space of defrosting time, you can be nursing a fresh bowl of pasta al pomodoro. My stash is often called upon on pizza night – sloshed over simple homemade bases with a selection of delicacies on top – divine. Equally good as a bed for the humble meatball, this sauce just keeps on giving.

All angst concerning overripe tomatoes threatening to be wasted is alleviated. These specimens make the most delectable sauce. With summer approaching you are bound to be confronted with garden surplus or irresistible market deals – make lots, freeze plenty and feel smug.

1/4 cup olive oil
4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
sea salt and black pepper
small bunch fresh oregano leaves, torn

Heat the oil in saucepan over a medium heat. Add the tomatoes and simmer until they become pulpy and the sauce begins to thicken. Add garlic, stir through and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir through oregano. Using a stick blender, puree to a consistency you are happy with. I like mine to contain plenty of tomato chunks. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.