(Or, What to do with the rest of the fresh bunch of herbs slowly going bad in your refrigerator)
Many cuisines include a condiment that has as its base fresh herbs, garlic, and oil: Italy has pesto, Latin America has chimichurri (often includes vinegar), and many Arabic cultures have a version of chermoula. It makes sense because the oil stretches the longevity of the herb. Garlic further preserves the leafies because of the bulb’s antibacterial properties. These pastes add nutrients and brightness to whole cooked grains, savory pancakes or griddle cakes, roasted vegetables, eggs, fish, seafood, poultry, or meats (especially BBQ’d!)
Here is my easy adaptation of chermoula which includes a jalapeno instead of the most classic dried red pepper or cayenne. I like jalapeno because the green pepper brings an added freshness and there is something very satisfying about roughly chopping something and throwing it into a food processor. My favorite combination of greens is dill, mint, parsley and spinach but playing with different combinations can be really fun.
- 2 packed cups of a mix of fresh herbs (dill, mint, cilantro, parsley, basil, chives, tarragon) and/or light leafy greens (spinach, chard, beet greens)
- ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- Juice from one lemon
- 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds, toasted or 2 tsp of ground cumin
- 1/3 tsp of salt (optional)
- 1/4 to 1/3 of a jalapeno, optional, amount depends on your desired spice level, remove seeds if you want it even less spicy)
- Wash herbs and greens and dry fully. You will need to do this a few hours in advance.
- Throw everything in a food processor and buzz until it forms a loose paste. Taste and see if it needs anything (more jalapeno? more garlic?) I’d advise against adding more salt because it will taste saltier as it ages.
- This will keep in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
- It also freezes well so the ice cube tray trick works. (Put the paste in olive-oil coated ice cube trays and pop out individual cubes to defrost as needed.)
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