Five of the Best Things to do with Home Grown Herbs

Here are our suggestions for five brilliant (and easy) things to do with your herbs in the kitchen.

Lemon balm pesto - yes really, and probably not for the kids!

This has been lifted straight and unashamedly from the wonderful Sybil Kapoor's book, Modern British Food.

Put  55 g of lemon balm leaves stripped from their stalks, 4 tbsp flat leaf parsley  and 1 tablespoon of lemon thyme leaves  (common thyme will do but then add a grating or two of lemon zest) into a food processor. Whizz until finely chopped. Add 30g of shelled pistachio, unsalted nuts and grind briefly - just to reduce the nuts to rubble but not to a paste. With the machine running add 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Taste, season and add more oil if it is too thick.

Parsley sauce - Probably need no introduction but this is a good one

You may not have had this since school. Just make a simple white sauce - known as bechamel to some - season it well then add as much finely chopped, curly leaf parsley as you wish, but at least 6 tablespoons worth, with a dollop of double cream. Stir and heat through before serving with plain chicken - poached or grilled, white fish, prawns or pour it over leeks and top it with breadcrumbs and parmesan and put it in the oven for a gratin.

French Tarragon

This herb is made for combining with chicken, especially cold chicken. Make your own mayonnaise. Whizz 2 egg yolks, a little salt, 2 tbsp of tarragon and 2 of white wine vinegar or lemon juice with 2 tsp of Dijon mustard in your food processor. Pour in half a pint of sunflower oil or half sunflower/half light olive oil very slowly until you have that unctuous texture that is proper mayonnaise. Otherwise chop your tarragon leaves into a well known supermarket brand and add a squirt of lemon juice- but it really is not the same! Coat cold chicken strips, halved grapes, diced tomatoes and chopped spring onions with the mayonnaise and serve.

Lemon thyme, goat's cheese and rape seed oil

This doesn't even require any cooking and makes an alternative to a pudding or cheese course: source a very mild, creamy, non-rinded goats cheese. Smear a dollop onto a plate and scatter lemon thyme leaves - 1 tsp per person - over the cheese. Swirl some rape seed oil over the whole thing and season with lots of black pepper before serving.

Sage & butter sauce

The simplest things are often the most memorable, and this sauce for ravioli or pasta is  no exception. Melt 100g of unsalted butter and keep heating it until it goes brown, but  not burnt. Scatter in 8 large sage leaves that you have chopped.  Stir the leaves over the heat just long enough for them to cook through. Season well, pour over your cooked pasta and Bob is your father's brother. Serve with parmesan.

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