Apr 27, 2011

GVW # 4 (link up): Herbs Gone Wild

Welcome to
Garden Variety Wednesday # 4
Link up your recipes & ideas using fresh produce below.

Ms. enPlace


We had a rough winter down here in Louisiana.  Rough by our standards, that is.

I spent unusually many below freezing nights worried about my plants.  Especially Rosemary, who gets prissy when it comes to the cold and ice. 

One night my husband found me barefoot and shivering, dressed in my robe, out in the yard after 10 PM harvesting.  Holding a flashlight between my teeth, stuffing satsumas and tangerines in my pockets.  There was an unexpected hard freeze--lower temps than we'd ever had before and I didn't know if the fruit would survive (they would've...let's just say I'm...cautious.)  Seems like all winter I was digging through closets and cabinets gathering old blankets and beach towels.  Only once forgot to cover the plants.  (Once is all it takes.)

Luckily the fretting, covering, and uncovering (which gets old fast) paid off.  I breathed a sigh of relief (or was it exhaustion?) once those first little shoots in my herb garden popped up from the ground.  Rosemary still stands, undamaged.

Herbs do their best when they are harvested often.  By some miracle (Miracle Gro, that is) mine have suddenly gone crazy.  It can be hard to keep up. 
There are tricks when it comes to horticulture.  This is what I find most fascinating about plants.  We try to manipulate them and con them into doing what we want--when we want it.  It's a human power trip thing. 

We force bulbs to flower early.  We hold back light to get Christmas color or to turn normally green vegetables white.  We alter soil pH to make flowers blue or make them blush.  We give certain fertilizers and deny others.  We pinch and prune.  We train and tie.  We mess with their hormones

It's worse than getting ready for a beauty pageant.  (I imagine.  This has never taken part.)

If we've performed these tricks correctly, we're rewarded.  Sometimes in excess.

There are tricks I've picked up along the way for herb gardens gone wild.  Not blow-your-mind tricks, but handy ones.  There'll be more in future GVW posts.

* Herbs can be turned into a slurry and frozen in oil.  Add about a cup of herb leaves (1 type or a mixture) to a food processor.  Chop, then slowly add olive oil until reaching a paste consistency.  Freeze in ice cube trays.  Toss with pasta, vegetables, meats.

* Excess parsley, green onion, and chives: chop and freeze for gumbo, soups, stews, beans...anything except garnishes. When they thaw it ain't pretty.  Double bag/wrap green onion to avoid green onion ice cream.

* At the end of the season when frosts and freezes loom and I'm panicky (yes, I know you're surprised by that), I resort to drying.  In the humid south, tying up stems and hanging them upside down will only get me moldy bouquets.  Quick microwave drying is for me.  Place herb leaves flat in one layer on 3-4 layers of paper towels.  Place in the microwave and nuke on low power in 5 second intervals until dried.  Crumble (not dust) and save to a jar.

No doubt, though, herb quality is best when fresh.  So I'm always on the prowl for recipes like the one below.  Ones that allow me to snip bits from plants needing to be tamed.

I've adapted this recipe from a former co-worker.  Original source not known

Toasted Orzo "Risotto" w/ Fresh Herbs...
You'll need orzo pasta, chicken or vegetable stock,
a mix of herbs--a palmful, Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper
Oregano, basil, chives & parsley today. 
Who knows what'll get thrown in next time.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add the orzo and stir until golden.
Doesn't take long, so watch it close.

When the orzo gets nice and toasted, it's time to add the stock (homemade if you have it) and cook risotto style.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese, s & p.  Turn off the heat, stir in the herbs & serve.
*I wouldn't think any less of you
if you used 1/2 cup white wine for some of the stock. 
I promise I wouldn't.

Tames the herb garden and the family.

Toasted Orzo "Risotto" with Fresh Herbs
1 c orzo pasta
3 1/2 - 4 cups warm chicken stock*   
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
palmful of fresh herbs, torn or coarsely chopped (any mix you have)

Preheat a skillet or sauté pan over medium.  Add the orzo.  Toast, stirring constantly, until orzo is golden brown. 

Stir in 3 cups of warm chicken stock.  Stir occasionally and simmer over medium to medium low heat for about 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.  When liquid is absorbed, add 1/2 cup more stock (or white wine).  Stir and simmer until absorbed.  The pasta should be cooked through.  If not, repeat with 1/4 cup stock and test again. 

Season with salt and pepper and stir in Parmesan cheese.  Remove from heat and stir in herbs.  4 side dish servings

* if you have it, sub 1/2 c white wine for some of the stock.

Made a dish with something you nurtured in your garden?
Maybe a neighbor stopped by and shared some of his/her harvest?
Have baskets of goodies from a pick-your-own farm?
Found some treasures at your local farmer's market?

Share your recipes and ideas using fresh produce here!

* In your post, link back to Ms. enPlace or grab a Garden Variety Wednesday button and add it to your post.
* Link your post--not your home page.
* Please, one link per person.
* Since growing seasons differ so much even across the US, old/archived posts are welcome, but please edit with a link back or a button.
* Have fun visiting other blogs!

Garden Variety Wednesday schedule:
May 11 & May 25        June 8 & June 22
July 13 & July 27        August 10 & August 24
Past August...up to Mother Nature and if participation picks up


Linking up with:
Make a Food-"e"-Friend Monday #10 @ The Saturday Evening Pot

Made it on Monday #7 @ Lark's Country Heart
Tuesdays at the Table @ All The Small Stuff
Hearth and Soul vol 45
Delectable Tuesday @ Home Sweet Farm
Tip Day Thursday @ Around My Family Table
What's Cooking Thursday @ Feeding Four
Potluck Friday #31 @ EKat's Kitchen
Fresh, Clean & Pure Friday @ la bella vita
Presto Pasta Nights #211 hosted by Theresa @ Food Hunters Guide


  1. YUM! I am always cooking rice...so this will be for sure featured at my table.

    I am so glad you linked up to Made it on Monday. I hope you join us here often.


  2. I definitely prefer herbs gone wild to girls gone wild :) Can't believe how great your herbs are doing already. Mine are only a couple inches high, but I can start harvesting them soon so it's exciting.

    I'm loving all the herbs in the orzo. Looks wonderful!

  3. I've posted my Sesame Corn Saute recipe. It calls for fresh corn but I used frozen and it was still delicious. But, I did use fresh basil from our garden. Your orzo dish looks delicious, too. I love orzo and am always looking for a way to use our herbs! I'll definitely try this! Kim

  4. As soon as my tomatoes grow I will be joining in!

  5. This is such an excellent and refreshing dish. I like greens and herbs and find it difficult to cook without any :) Thanks for sharing it with hearth and soul hop :)

  6. Wow, our leaves aren't even on the trees yet and you have herbs. We have buds, that's it. Reading your post makes me realize I don't cook healthy enough, lol. I'll have to rectify that so I can join you in Garden Variety Wednesday more often!

  7. I linked up my pasta salad, even though this was made with veggies from the grocery store, I usually make this with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from my garden. Thanks for letting me join in on the fun.

  8. Love your dedication to the fresh herbs! It takes a dish from good to incredible in in nothing flat!!

    Thanks for sharing at the hearth and soul hop 45.

  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. I love your ideas for making use of an over-abundance of herbs. Now I just have to wait for mine to grow! We had a very, very long winter in the northeast, so things are now just starting to bloom.

  10. Your herbs are looking wonderful! Love the recipe too. I bet it would be great with any rice or pasta - so fresh and healthy!

  11. I'm actually baby sitting some windowsill herbs for a friend right now and they are running amok! I love this orzo as a way to use them up!

  12. I really really really wish I understood a bit of gardening...sighs....

  13. Pasta with fresh herbs sounds perfect.

  14. I'm so glad Spring is finally here in Nova Scotia...we're a little slow in getting over winter around here.

    My herb "garden" consists of pots on the window sill, but I can at least find really fresh herbs at the farmers market.

    Thanks for sharing this great harbinger of spring with Presto Pasta Nights. I think I might add some basil pesto roasted shrimp to top it off ;- D

  15. This is a wonderful idea for a linky. My herbs are also doing well and I am using them, as much as possible. I have to remember to come back here, next Wednesday. I would love to be part of this.

  16. Thanks so much for sharing this post with a super orzo recipe and chock full of great gardening tips! I chose it to be featured today on Fresh Clean and Pure Friday and hope you can stop by to check it out, and possibly share another post! Happy Weekend!


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments.