Basil & Mint...
July 23, 2017 • By Seamus Mullen
One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of super fresh local ingredients. And whether "local" means the weekend farmer's market or your own back yard (or balcony, if you live in New York City), there's nothing quite like cooking with fresh summer herbs.
I guess I came by my love for herbs naturally. When I was a kid, my grandmother, Mutti, had the most amazing herb garden, and we never had cream cheese without chopped chives mixed in, or a salad without torn tarragon, basil and dill. Mutti was a fanatic for fresh herbs, drying mint to make her own mint tea and and skewering lamb with rosemary branches for grilled kebabs.
my favorite Summer Herbs
There are so many different varieties of basil, from the broad, leafy Genovese basil, to the tiny bush basil, to opal and Thai basil. I love them all and use them all the time.
Mint is like a weed, plant a little and it grows like wildfire. These days there seem to be more and more types of mint than ever, but I love good old-fashioned spearmint. I often combine mint, basil and cilantro—the trinity of herbs I fell in love with in Vietnam—as a perfect way to add a tropical escape to any dish.
Perhaps no herb is as divisive as cilantro, haters love to hate it and lovers defend it with honor and blood! I fall into the latter camp. My favorite of all cilantro is a little-known variety called “Delfino” cilantro that looks more like dill, but has a beautiful, delicate coriander-ness that is unparalleled. Few dishes don’t benefit from a little cilantro!
We often think of this herb as a winter staple, but rosemary is equally at home in delicate summer dishes. In my new book, Real Food Heals, I use rosemary with the most amazing deviled eggs with anchovies. You’ll never think of rosemary as a boring herb again!
Have you ever wondered about that familiar and distinctive herby flavor you can’t quite put your finger on? It might just be tarragon. In the anisette family (along with basil and fennel and dill) tarragon is a perfect bedfellow in a yolky vinaigrette with mustard and lemon, simply dressing butter lettuce leaves. Or perhaps as a final addition to perfectly roasted chicken.