Creamy herb dressing is a staple in our house. I started out making it as a classic ranch with fresh dill and parsley, but over time have made many variations with different herbs from my garden. My favorite way to eat it is as a dip for fresh celery. Celery has such a fantastic texture and flavor that combines perfectly with this dressing. I love how when I crunch down on the celery the cells burst open and release their watery juices. It reminds me of the way it feels to jump into a pool on a hot summer day. The dressing is also delicious on a salad or heaped onto a fish fillet or chicken thigh and baked.
Growing up, my parents served a garden salad with every dinner. It usually had lettuce, carrots, and miscellaneous other veggies. It was fine. Even good. But I got bored. I rebelled against the salad for many years after leaving home, focusing on other types of vegetable preparations. Recently, I’ve fallen in love with salad all over again. It started with a beautiful head of green leaf lettuce I bought at my local farm club. It tasted so fresh, crispy, and bright. Combined with fermented carrots and my homemade mix-and-match dressing, it was truly delicious. We planted a lot of greens in our garden this year, as well as in the Aerogarden. Now we have enough to harvest fresh garden salads a few times a week.
I came up with a list of ideas for making a scrumptious salad on the fly. Start with a head of fresh lettuce, spinach, or one of those super convenient salad mix bags. Then add in one or more from the list, and walla! Better than most salads you get in a restaurant.
This is our second go-round with the Aerogarden. Round one was a fantastic success. We grew our first set of herbs in it for almost a year. This time, I decided to document the growth of the garden along the way. We planted seven different herbs in in it: dill, cilantro, parsley, tarragon, lemon balm, shungiku, and mitsuba. Some of them are familiar to us, others new adventures. The Aerogarden website offers a lot of different herbs. You can also grow tomatoes, peppers, flowers, and other plants.
In this post, I'll tell you a bit about how the garden works and what we chose to grow.
Image from the Aerogarden website
At the end of the growing season I am always left with a ton of basil. A great way to preserve the leaves is to keep them in the fridge, covered in olive oil and salt. They will keep for many months this way. I use them in any cooked dish that won’t mind a little extra oil. They are great in a stir fry, mixed with roasted meat and veggies, or in one my favorite dishes, Ezekiel’s chicken.
Fermented carrots are super yummy, like carrot pickles. They make a great healthy snack, side dish, or addition to salad. They are packed with vitamins and gut-friendly bacteria. Different herbs and spices can be added to flavor them however you like. I often use dill, which gives them a familiar and approachable dill pickle-like flavor. This time, I used spicier ingredients with a Tex-Mex flair: hot peppers, garlic, onion powder, mustard seeds, and oregano.
We got the fantastic Aerogarden last year as a gift. It’s a hydroponic garden with a digital display that tells you when to add fertilizer and water. The lights are programmed to go on and off on a daily cycle. It’s about as easy as gardening can be. Ours was meant for herbs, and came with a bunch of little pre-seeded pods that we inserted. We’ve been growing the same set of herbs for about 9 months now. We started with two kinds of basil, mint, parsley, chives, and cilantro. The chives never sprouted and the cilantro finished a few months ago. The basil, mint, and parsley are still going strong. We can hardly keep up! We’re always looking for ways to use the abundance of herbs.
Growing your own herbs is the easiest and most beneficial type of edible gardening you can do on a small scale. You don’t need much space, time, or money to grow herbs, and if you like to cook, you will use them nearly every day. Basil is one of my favorite herbs. I am currently growing two types, Genovese and lemon, and I use them all the time. Yesterday, I put torn basil leaves all over my delivery pizza. See, you don’t even have to cook to use garden herbs.
These tips are for growing basil both in containers and in the ground. I’ve successfully grown basil using these guidelines in diverse climates all over the country- south Texas, the Pacific Northwest, and southern Illinois.
This recipe comes from Joyce Goldstein's Cucina Ebraica, a cookbook about the cuisine of Italian Jews. Goldstein writes that for this book, she sought recipes with a long history. The name of this particular dish, Pollo Ezechiele, hints at its Jewish biblical origins. Goldstein explains that for much of Italian history, chicken was more expensive than other meats, so the chicken repertoire of Italian Jews of the past was limited. They tended to use the least expensive cuts, like giblets and other odd pieces that could be ground up and shaped into meatballs. Roasted and fried chicken were reserved for holiday and Sabbath meals. I imagine Ezechiele's Chicken may have been a special occasion meal in times past.
My name is Hillary. This blog is about the everyday food I prepare in my kitchen, with tips and recipes for easy, wholesome, and diet friendly meals. I have been chanting "cheese please!" since I was a toddler, although lately I've cut back on dairy.